May 28th, 2009 by Penny Hagerman
Remember the sense of freedom you experienced when you were a teenager and just learning to drive? Remember how the wheel felt in your hands…and the exhilarating feeling of power when your foot hit the gas?
Then there was that pole you backed into while doing your best to parallel park—and the emotional explanation that followed when your parents saw the car’s crumpled fender.
And the rear-ender you had when you got preoccupied trying to change the channel on the car radio—and the insurance rates that soared as a result.
Raising a responsible, mature driver isn’t easy. Now, as an adult with teens of your own, you wish you could skip the white knuckles and fast-forward to the day when your teenager drives like a normal, sane human being.
But before they set out on their own in the family car, teens need lots of practice to learn how to drive safely. In many states, graduated driver licensing, in which teens gain experience driving under specified conditions and restrictions for a particular period of time, help ensure they learn as they go, reducing the likelihood of accident.
But that’s not enough.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the risk of being involved in a car crash per mile driven is four times that for 16- to 19-year-olds than for veteran drivers.
Why? Because along with lack of experience comes immaturity and unwise decision making—and both can kill when teens are learning to drive.
To help overcome these statistics, experts say parental coaching is the key to training teen drivers adequately—which helps keep them, and everyone around them, safer.
That means spending an abundance of time one-on-one, talking, observing and setting a good example of mature driving behavior, such as buckling up, yielding the right-of-way when appropriate, and driving within the speed limit.
No matter how crazy they act sometimes, our teens look to us for advice and coaching. So learn how to coach your teenager effectively, encourage him to drive safely, and keep insurance rates down in the process.
Some day, he’ll fill your shoes by teaching his own teen to drive—and pass along the wisdom you shared with your grandchild!
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