For many teenagers, driving means freedom but it also means lots of added responsibilities and for many parents, this can induce fear and worry. As a parent, you can help to prepare your child for driving alone, potentially other dangerous road users and weather conditions, by making sure that they are well-equipped to handle any distractions that may come into play while driving on the road. So, whether you're teen is just getting ready to hit the road for the first time or they've been driving for months, our road safety tips will help to encourage safer driving.
Here are some top driving tips to share with your teenagers to ensure that they're practising safe driving techniques:
1. BUCKLE UP
Wearing your seat belt is simple but crucial and apart from it being the law, seat belts reduce the risk of death and serious injury, saving thousands of lives each year. However, teenagers do not often receive this message loud and clear. Even if it's just a short trip to the shops, you should ensure that your teenagers understand that despite how long the journey is, they should always wear a seat belt when in the car. Wearing a seat belt could be the difference between getting a couple of bruises and going through the windscreen, so make sure your teenagers know to buckle up every time they get into the car.
2. HANG UP THE PHONE
If you use your phone while driving then this is more likely to increase your chances of getting into an accident. To avoid your teenagers developing bad driving habits, perhaps train them to switch off their phone and put it out of reach before they start the car. In doing this, although friends may have to wait to receive a reply, it will prevent teenagers from taking their eyes off the road and not put them at risk of causing an accident and getting hurt. You should remind your teenagers that when they're driving it's of utmost importance that their eyes are on the road as it's their responsibility and no one else's.
3. STICK TO THE SPEED LIMIT
Despite maybe feeling pressured to keep up with the flow of traffic, teenagers should not feel the need to put their foot down. You should encourage your teens to drive safely and at a safe distance from the car in front. Speeding is a major contributor to fatal incidents involving young drivers and as well as potentially costing teenagers their lives, speeding can also incur costly traffic tickets, points on their licence and a spike in insurance premiums.
4. MINIMISE DISTRACTIONS
Texting, checking messages and putting on loud music while driving is not the best idea. Eating, drinking and even flicking through the different radio channels will all cause your mind to be distracted, focus on something else and potentially cause your eyes to wander rather than focus on what they should be doing, which is on the road ahead. If your teen is a first-time driver and inexperienced, they may be more likely to give in to the distractions and potentially lose control of the car, so ensure they understand the importance of paying attention.
5. BE PREPARED
Before you allow your teenagers to head out on a long trip, it's probably a good idea to ensure that they have an emergency kit in the car at all times. A torch, spare tyre, jump cables and a first-aid kit are just some of the things that are helpful to pack. Making sure that they also understand some proper vehicle maintenance is important and a couple of things they should know is how to check tyre air pressure, what each light on the dashboard means and how to check their oil. You'll probably also want to ensure that your child's car is safe to drive, it doesn't have to be brand new, just safe and reliable.
6. PRACTICE DEFENSIVE DRIVING
Many parents often teach their teenagers to be defensive drivers and to always be aware of other drivers on the road. Sometimes, it's not your teenager who is the problem on the road, rather it is others, perhaps the car to the side with the driver who is texting. Teenagers can often be in a world of their own, but you should teach them to always be alert of their surroundings, the traffic ahead, behind and next to them, as well as any possible escape routes. Teach your teenagers to be aware and anticipate what may happen on the road. Don't lecture your teens, just be honest about safety and the level of responsibility they have when driving.
7. LIMIT THE PASSENGER COUNT
Once you've taught your teenagers the means of good driving habits and how important safety is, it's no doubt that they will eventually start taking their friends out, which is when they may start making risky decisions. With friends in the back, they may feel pressured to drive differently, perhaps faster than normal, which can put everyone at risk. So, ensure that you talk to your teens about driving with friends and consider limiting the number of passengers in the car at one time to avoid any distractions.
8. WATCH THE WEATHER
In bad weather conditions, it's even more dangerous for a teenager who is inexperienced to be on the road. Before you allow your teen to drive alone, maybe it's a good idea to ensure that they are fully aware of how to control the car in various weather conditions. Whether it's heavy rain, snow, ice or sleet, driving in bad weather can be scary so you want to make sure that your teen feels confident to handle all these different weather challenges. Although it's best to avoid bad weather altogether, preparing your child in the event of a skidding incident, for example, is a good idea in case they are ever faced with this while driving alone.
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