Teen drivers are the most accident-prone of all drivers because of one major factor: inexperience. In fact, their first 6-12 months of solo driving is the most dangerous stretch of their lifetime as a licensed driver.
Because they’ve logged far fewer hours compared to other drivers, they are less able to predict – and properly respond to – hazards, sudden changes in traffic and erratic behaviors by other drivers. They also typically haven’t made a habit of defensive driving techniques, leaving them vulnerable to making wrong decisions in the moment.
If you have a young driver (or soon-to-be licensed driver) in the house, as a parent, your years of driving experience are an invaluable asset. Here are some ways you can leverage that knowledge and expertise to help boost your teen’s safe driving know-how.
The Learning Permit Phase: A Golden Opportunity
Many new teen drivers complete their learner’s permit training lacking important real-world driving skills. You can help your teen shore up that deficit by serving as co-pilot in a range of driving scenarios and situations during the permit phase. By exposing them to – and coaching them through – diverse experiences behind the wheel, you will help them become a confident, safe and independent driver.
Although you may feel more secure behind the wheel, here are some driving scenarios that teens need to experience.
1. Bad Weather
There’s a big difference between answering driver test questions about how to handle bad weather and how to actually do it in the moment. When possible, have your teen drive you during the following weather events.
- Heavy rain
2. Different Roads
Different roadways (and intersections) call for different driving skills and techniques. Ditto for traffic situations. Expose them to as many as you can, including:
- One-way roads
- Two-lane roads with high-speed limits
- Peak commute traffic
- Multi-lane highways and interstates
- Congested roads in urban centers
- Residential streets
3. Day, Night, and Everything in Between
Bright light at dawn and sunset, as well as low light at dusk, affects drivers’ visibility and also influence traffic patterns and behaviors. Practice driving with your teen at different times of day and night. Coach them on the adjustments they need to make in terms of following distance and defensive driving, as well as personal adjustments with visors, sunglasses, headlights, and more.
4. Switch up passengers
For a new driver, devoting their full attention to driving and the road is incredibly important. Knowing that your teen won’t be driving alone forever, why not invite another family member or friend along so your teen can start strengthening their “focus muscles”? Distractions are a major cause of accidents among teens, so the sooner they can begin successfully managing distractions while driving, the better.
5. Different cars
If your family has multiple cars, have your teen practice in each of them. Sedans drive much differently from SUVs, and stick shifts from automatics, etc. – all are good for them gaining familiarity with a variety of vehicles.
Teen Drivers’ Most Common Errors
In addition to exposing your young driver to a range of on-the-road experiences, be sure to also help them cultivate good driving habits. Here are the top errors that inexperienced drivers make – keep an eye out for them and coach your teen along the way.
- Lack of scanning – Inexperienced drivers typically detect hazards later than more experienced drivers and may be unsure how to react. Left turns are especially dangerous for them.
- Distractions – No matter whether they come from inside or outside the vehicle, distractions are a common reason for teen crashes.
- Speeding – This includes driving too fast for road conditions or weather as well as inadequate braking. This error commonly ends in rear-end events.
- Tailgating – Inexperienced teens haven’t yet gained a feel for safe cushion distances and can easily follow other vehicles too closely.
Teens need extra time and experience to master good driving skills. By accompanying them in a variety of driving settings and conditions – as well as lending your years of expertise – you’ll help them develop critical skills for more safely navigating our roadways. For more teen driver safety tips, click here.
This article is furnished by California Casualty. We specialize in providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.