Driving safety tips for your teen

June 23, 2014 12:00 AM

So your teen just turned 16 years old and is about to get their license, and it is time to start imparting on them your driving wisdom. Did you know that, according to a study done by Allstate, 80 percent of teens report that they get most of their driving habits from their parents? So as your child enters this exciting time, there are some key things you can do to help ensure they become the safest drivers they can be.

Vehicle Maintenance 
It is important that your car is in top shape before your teen heads out on the road. Schedule a car tune up to ensure everything is in top shape and bring your son or daughter with you. It is a great opportunity to talk about basic car care with him or her. Although your child is just learning how to drive, it is never too late to learn about the more technical side of car ownership. By having come your driver with you, they'll feel more confident and know what to expect when they have to bring their own car to the local auto repair shop.

Defensive driving
While driving with your teen, point out things that he or she should be looking for. A first-time driver might not notice some of the smaller technicalities that come with driving. One of these minor details is distance between cars. Remind drivers that it is good to keep about a car's length between them and the car in front of them.

Teens just starting out can be nervous about traffic behind them. Busy drivers often become impatient when behind beginners and will tailgate. No matter what is going on, encourage your young driver to remain calm. A clear head is the best way to avoid accidents.

Minimize distractions
While your child is still inexperienced, encourage he or she to cut down on the distractions that many drivers face. Eating or drinking in the car for example, can bring attention away from the road. Playing music loudly or looking for just the right song on the radio can be the same issue. Multitasking while driving is never a good idea, but it is especially dangerous for new drivers. When driving with them, do not let them get distracted. It is important to teach teens that the road is the most important thing to focus on.

Many states have a period of time after teens get their license when they are not allowed to drive with friends in the car. Having people in the car is one of the biggest distractions a teen can face. They will want to talk with their friends and focus on the conversation at hand. Make sure your child is aware of your state's law. If your state doesn't have one, it is a good idea to make your own rule. Your child should be a solid, safe driver before guests hop in the car.

Cellphones in the car is the greatest distraction of all. Both talking and texting puts drivers at risk. The Federal Communications Commission reported that "11 percent of drivers aged 18 to 20 who were involved in an automobile accident and survived admitted they were sending or receiving texts when they crashed." Various laws have been passed across the country to combat this issue, but it is your responsibility to talk with your child. It is not only teens that use cellphones behind the wheel. Set a good example for your new driver and avoid using your phone while behind the wheel. It is often tempting to shoot a "running late" text, but a crash will only cause you to be later.

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