And so you’re at a family gathering or at an adult party chatting when all of a sudden the subject of parenthood comes up. You simply can’t resist to share stories about your children that always somehow start with “Oh how I remember the terrible two’s” and it quickly goes to “I can’t believe they are about to drive!” How much have you considered the education of teen drivers?
As parents all we can do is what we know or have been taught. Unfortunately most of us were taught wrong. It’s not really any one generations fault, it’s what was given to us by society and the times we were living. With so many teen drivers on the road today, we can’t help but reminisce how we were once teenagers and very eager to drive a very cool looking car to show our friends. Yet we have forgotten that in current times of more cars on the road and click based young generation that safety is much more important today then the look of the car.
Sure, we stand our ground with our children – (for a moment) to command safety and scold them to not worry about the looks, I need you safe is what we preach! But as adults and parents, do we really know about safety beyond “put your seat belt on” and preaching “be careful”. There is so much more to understand about being a safe car owner than we know.
Let’s audit our personal vehicles, just for a moment…
Do we know what we own and drive ourselves? Aside from how to fill up gas, how to put on a seat belt, how not to speed and how to have your license and registration ready when your pulled over, what do we know about the 4,000 to 6,000 lb vehicle we are driving?
Of course we know the color, we know it has a sunroof, we know it has Bluetooth and cruise control, We know the price of the vehicle and we know what the monthly payments are but we know very little of what the vehicle weighs, what tire size it has, what type of oil it takes, does it have an owners manual and do you know how to use it, does it have a spare tire, can I change the spare tire, what do the warning lights mean?
It shouldn’t be about the look…
Over 80% of car purchases are based on emotional value and for that reason, car washes are very successful. We worry and apologize to friends and family about the car being dirty and messy but never admit that you haven’t changed the oil in a long time or your tires are balding and unsafe to drive or you have oil leaks that you have been ignoring or that the brakes have been squealing for a long time. Instead we feel guilty that the vehicle doesn’t look good. As adults, we don’t see the carbon foot print we are leaving for our children to repeat.
Teen drivers must understand that a car that focuses on safety most likely isn’t going to look “Awesome” in their eyes. But, is it really worth it when auto accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers ages 15 to 20? Safety is paramount and, it’s never too late to get back to basics. Keeping them humbled young is a good trait they can use throughout life. When you get down to it, all new drivers really need is something safe and reliable.
Yes, your kids will beg for something fancy and trendy. Yes, they will tell you that their friends have nice cars. Yes, they will groan and moan if it doesn’t have that “Dope” factor. Stand your ground and do what you know is right, they will thank you in the future!
Before you even think of purchasing a vehicle for them, you need to make sure they understand and respect the car and it’s safety first.
HERE ARE SOME WAYS TO GET EMPOWERED TOGETHER
Practicing with them honestly is the best way to start. Share the stories of your first experience driving and how nervous you were and the mistakes you continue to make even today.
Remember, you are not the person to make your teen a great driver, they are! Except the fact that you’re not the master, you are just the introduction level.
Explain that distraction is the biggest reason for accidents. Teach them about the three types of distractions. Manual, Visual & Cognitive
* Manual distractions are those were you move your hands from the steering wheel.
* Visual distractions are those where you focus your eyes away from the road
* Cognitive distractions are when your mind wanders away from the task of driving.
FYI: TEXTING INVOLVES ALL THREE TYPES OF DISTRACTION!!
Start with parking and turning before allowing them to drive on the road. Practice not just once, make time and do it by hours not days. Be sure to invest at least 10 hours of just parking and turning. Relax, you have plenty of time for happy hour and your favorite TV show. Besides, you can spread it out over time. A good rule of thumb is to commit to 2 hours a week by doing 30 minutes segments. After they master the parking and turning, you can slowly start the driving in low-risk situations for a minimum of 15 hours and then work up to more risky situations for at least 10 hours.
No friends or passengers other than parents should be in the vehicle with them. No radio or music for the first 20 hours of driving. They can sing and get jiggy with it anytime in the future.
Monkey see, Monkey do! Teens who’s parents drive distracted are 2 to 4 times likely to also drive distracted. – Remember, teens see their parents as role models. That doesn’t change when they get their license. When you are behind the wheel, don’t do anything you wouldn’t want your teen to do. If they catch you – admit to your mistakes. It shows your new driver that it is never too late to start driving safely.
Sign them up for driving school and leave them alone. They need to focus on learning by a 3rd party non-biased person. You can judge them later.
This is the most important step. After they have completed a driving school course, Go to B.R.A.K.E.S program and sign your teen and yourself up for this amazing FREE program. Yes, it’s free and they travel all around the country teaching aggressive safety driving the right way. You simply sign up, you give a credit card to hold your spot, if you show up, it’s FREE! If you flake out and be a no show, then you get charged for your saved spot, ITS THAT SIMPLE!! putonthebrakes.org/shop
When you’re ready to purchase a vehicle for them, stay away from vehicles that have all the bells and whistles of safety features. IE: Back up camera, side motion sensors and cruise control. These are bad habit forming features that they will rely on and not actually do the work of paying proper attention and becoming a good defensive driver.
We did fine as society way before any of these features. Sure, ABS, Stability control and air bags are standard and understandable, but they need to always turn around to look before changing lanes, not wait for a beep. They need to fully turn their head when backing up and not look into a camera or wait for the motion sensor to chime that they have gone to far.
Here Are Some Very Disturbing facts
50% of parents have knowingly texted their teen while the teen is driving. About a third of these parents expect a response before the teen reaches their destination. Of all the folks in a teen’s life (friends, siblings, other adults), they tell us in their own survey that when driving they are most likely to respond quickest when a call or text comes from a parent.
55% of parents say they use apps while driving. Nearly a third of teens have asked them to stop. And 95% of teens in the survey acknowledge that app usage is a danger behind the wheel (yet 68% of teens admit to using apps while driving!).
62% of parents say they use their phone to check incoming calls and/or talk while driving. Either by holding the phone, using headphones, or hands-free speakers. 75% of teens say they have seen their parents do this, and 50% have asked them to stop.
How About These Other Dangerous Behaviors
45% of parents admit they speed while driving – and 43% of teens have witnessed it.
34% of parents say they drive while drowsy or tired – and 35% of teens have witnessed it.
25% of parents report they drive aggressively – and 47% of teens have witnessed it.
This is not a pretty picture.
Dear Mom & Dad, if you don’t want me to text while driving, please don’t text me when you know I’m driving.