Worried About Your Teenage Driver? Take These Steps to Keep Them Safe
As a parent, there’s nothing more important to you than the safety of your child. It can be a very scary time for parents when their kids start to drive, especially in the Nashville area, where traffic and accidents have both been on the rise for several years. You may be able to start with some ground rules (e.g., no phone, no loud music, no more than two passengers, etc.), but you don’t have much of a way to enforce those rules.
And what about when they graduate high school and go to Middle Tennessee University or some other school? They’re technically on their own, but their brains are still developing, and they will be spending lots of time with other new drivers with the same new sense of freedom. What steps can you take to help keep your teen driver safe during this vulnerable time? Let’s look at some practical tips.
Educate Your Teen
“Laying down the law” may work to a point, but a better approach is to instill the concepts of safe driving into your teen so they carry them with them into adulthood. Have some open and honest conversations about the risks of distracted driving, speeding, impaired driving, and the importance of obeying traffic laws. Try to come from the approach that you are entrusting your teen with these adult responsibilities and that you have faith in their ability to handle them. This approach isn’t foolproof, but it makes it more likely that your teen will begin to take ownership of their own safety—and that’s the goal.
Consider a Tracking App
If you’re truly concerned about your teen’s safety on the road, you may want to consider one of several tracking apps that can be installed on your smartphones. Various tracking apps can:
- Pinpoint your teen’s geographic location at all times
- Set geofences (boundaries) for them so you get an alert when they venture into restricted areas (e.g., accident hotspots they’re not ready to handle)
- Alert you when your teen texts behind the wheel, exceeds the speed limit, etc.
These apps aren’t perfect, but they do add a layer of accountability to your teen while they’re still becoming comfortable behind the wheel.
Invest in Driver-Assist Features
These days, technology in cars can, quite literally, be a life-saver. When buying a car, consider one that has driver-assist features such as automatic braking, lane-keeping assistance, blind-spot monitoring, and others. These features can help prevent accidents by intervening when the driver is not paying attention or making poor decisions—and more importantly, the alerts keep your teen immediately accountable for missteps so safe driving becomes a habit for them. Some cars even include a “teen driver” mode with features like maximum speed and delaying shifting into gear until seat belts are fastened.
Lead by Example
When it comes to teaching teens to drive safely, the “Do as I say, not as I do” approach definitely does not work. If you’re speeding, weaving in traffic, failing to use your turn signals, texting while driving, or disobeying other traffic laws, your teen is more likely to pick up these same habits, and it’s not reasonable to expect them to do otherwise. One of the best ways to instill safe driving habits is to practice them yourself. Don’t just tell your kids to be safe behind the wheel—show them how it’s done.