You can tell your kids to drive slow and pay attention every time they take the car out, but are you convinced they are listening? Think of the mistakes you made as a teenager behind the wheel.
The insurance statistics show that the two highest risk age groups for automobile accidents are teens and elderly drivers. Consumer Reports indicates that teen drivers are nine times more likely to be involved in a collision than middle-aged drivers, versus the 5.5 times for octogenarian and older drivers.
Here are four tips to keep your teen drivers safer.
Advanced Driver Training
Get your kids a professional driver's education course, not just the high-school class but a course that teaches tactics to really know how to drive.
Kids need to break away from the video game mentality of driving to understand how to detect and evade potential accident situations that are developing, and they need to understand how to do things such as emergency braking and steering and how to prevent rollover crashes caused by not understanding how centrifugal force can flip a car.
The seat-of-your-pants feel that older generations of drivers relied on to feel the level of control a driver had in a car has now been relegated to sensors and automatic braking technologies. However, technology cannot be relied upon in all situations, and not all cars share the same software and sensors.
Learning to really drive is about learning to control the vehicle, and a defensive driving course can help immensely.
Never Assume the Other Driver Sees You
Teenagers are reaching the peak of their visual acuity and reaction times. Unfortunately, this can cause them to think everyone else is seeing and reacting to things the same way.
They also have a confidence in multitasking that needs to be adjusted to keep their focus on their driving and on the drivers around them. More than one young driver has been heard to say how they thought the other drivers saw them when reporting the details of accidents that have happened.
Teenage drivers should be taught to treat all drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists as if they cannot see them. A good example is to take your teen driver out for a drive and have them take on the mindset of being invisible. Ask them to take notice of how thinking that way changes their driving behavior.
The Dolman Law Group website tells of over 15,000 accidents involving rear-end collisions with tractor-trailer trucks between 2005 and 2009. Semi drivers cannot see what is directly behind them, but young drivers may not know this fact.
Install a Tracker
There are various models made by different manufacturers, but a device is available that plugs into the On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) port of your car. It is the plug right underneath the dashboard that a mechanic connects an engine analyzer to.
The device records speed and other details such as hard acceleration and braking. A GPS receiver built into the device makes it easy to set up a GEO fence. Anytime your teen driver drives outside of the allowed area, you get a text.
You will know if your teen really went to the mall or to a party at the beach. The driving trackers let you know if speed limits and other rules are being followed. Your young driver is your responsibility, and this is a safety device that can save lives of teen drivers who might otherwise take liberties and risks they should not.
Be an Exemplary Example
One of the best things you can do is to set the stage for safe driving. Wear your seat belt, never use your phone while driving, and stay calm no matter what the other drivers do. Kids are big on mimicry. If you have road rage and a lead foot, your child will likely take on those traits too.
You cannot make this a do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do thing. You have to lead by example. If you have a child approaching driving age, change your ways now if necessary.
Openly apologize for past behavior, and promise to drive the right way from now on. Ask your children to help keep you on the right path of safe driving by holding you accountable, and remind them they will be held accountable too.
Getting your child a safe car to drive is a bonus fifth tip. However, driving is full of inherent risks of which many cannot be controlled. The New York Times reported that over 40,000 people were killed on US roadways in 2016, which is a six percent increase over 2015 totals. Give your children the tools and the skills to be safer drivers no matter what they are driving or what road they are on.