We are currently in the middle of the 100 deadliest days for teenage drivers. According to AAA, between Memorial and Labor Day the average number of deadly teen driver crashes climbs by 15%.
As the parent of a new driver, it’s imperative to reiterate the importance of staying safe and following the rules of the road as teenagers increase their driving frequency back and forth to school campuses around the Valley.
There can be plenty of distractions and challenges for these young drivers so here are my top tips for increasing young drivers’ safety:
No time to rush. Make sure your student has plenty of time to get to school in the morning. You do not want novice drivers to feel hurried. They are more likely to obey rules of the road and speed laws if they don’t feel rushed.
Go it alone. Avoid driving with passengers in the vehicle. Passengers are the number one distraction for teen drivers. Teens should be required to drive on their own in order to hone safe driving skills. If your teen must drive with a passenger, say a sibling or neighbor, make sure everyone understands the rules about disrupting the driver and the consequences for breaking them.
Reevaluate skills regularly. Even though your child has a driver’s license, there is always room for improvement and an opportunity to learn. Parents should routinely drive with their teens to make sure they are paying attention, have not picked up bad habits, and are driving with the utmost safety.
One of the biggest challenges we see at DrivingMBA is that teen drivers think they know it all when it comes to driving. Teens believe they are good drivers simply because they’ve passed the MVD driving test. Unfortunately, the MVD test focuses on vehicle handling, which is just one component of safe driving. The most important skills a novice driver needs to develop are observation and planning as well as judgment and decision-making. These are the skills that will help teen drivers avoid crashes.
My last piece of advice for keeping young drivers safe as they head back to school is that you consider investing in a quality driver education and training program. Not every program is created equal so do your research and find a school that best fits your driver’s needs.
As parent, teaching your child how to drive can be a harrowing process. Be patient with your teenager and take your cues from them. Every teenager is different and learns at their own pace. If your teen is nervous about driving, seek additional driver training opportunities and spend a lot of time practicing. If your teenager is over-confident, help them understand driving is an important responsibility.
Learning to drive is a process, it’s not just a test, a class or a box to be checked. Driving is a critical life skill that your child is developing, so do your due diligence to assure they are safe on the open roads this fall.
Maria Wojtczak is the co-founder and COO of DrivingMBA. She brings more than 20 years of organization development along with her experience in large systems change and organization learning principles to her leadership role at DrivingMBA. Wojtczak’s extensive experience in the field of adult learning and in the design and facilitation of adult learning experiences and interventions has been instrumental in developing the research and evidence-based approach to driver training at DrivingMBA.