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Teaching Your Teen to Drive: Tips to Keep You Sane and Her Safe

Teaching your child to drive

Teaching your child to drive

Car accidents are the number one cause of death amongst this age group, according Life Family, with about 5,000 dying each year. While most teenagers receive some formal education to prepare them for life on the road, your role as a parent can be the most influential in helping them develop safe driving habits.

If you have been tasked with this delicate situation, here are some tips to make things run smoothly, while instilling your teen with the information and skills that will minimize the risk of an accident.

Make a Plan

Before you and your teen hit the road, making a plan would serve you well. Decide what specific things you want to cover on this outing and let your child know. Tell her which specific skills she will be practicing today, and where you will be practicing them. Even Allstate says: “Teaching your child to drive can be a wonderful bonding experience”.

Start Slow

No need to dive right into extensive, lengthy driving lessons right off the bat. This is beneficial to both of you, actually. You can ease yourself into a task that is probably a bit nerve-wracking, and your teen will feel less pressure and less nervous. Start with short lessons—maybe 15 or 20 minutes in good weather conditions and during the day. Then move to night driving or driving in the rain or snow. As you and your teen feel more comfortable, spend more time out in the car.

thinking and a car

Heavy on Praise and Curb Criticism

Many parents may take the approach that being silent implies your teen is doing well, and the only time to say something is when he makes a mistake. But, this is not the best way. You should be praising your teen for all the things he is doing right, and not just pointing out what he is doing wrong. If he always remembers to put on his blinker, or at check his mirror before changing lanes, point out what a good job he is doing. Complimenting the good moves will help reinforce these habits until they become second nature.

Now, for the criticism part. Yes, your teen is new to driving and will make many mistakes.

Teenage Vehicle Accidents – Table Chart

YearTeens Killed in Car AccidentsTeens Injured in Car Accidents% use of Alcohol
20152,823243,24319
20143,115221,31317
20132,524 236,00018
20122,228228,00019
20112,789211,000 21

It is important to point them out. But, there are many different ways to do this, with some being more effective than others. Unless he is doing something in the moment that is truly dangerous, hold off on bringing it up right then and there.

Make a mental note of your observations and discuss them after the lesson is over. My father, a professional driver, was the one administering my lessons and I remember many of them ending with my crying and him screaming. He taught me well for sure, but we both would have been better off with a less charged approach.

Stay Aware

Most parents who are teaching their teens to drive are probably already doing this, but wanted to give you a reminder just in case. Taking in everything about your surroundings is key to safe driving, but a skill that a new driver has definitely yet to master. So, it is up to you to be hyper-vigilant about the environment. You cannot rely on your teen to see everything he should be seeing.

Always Be on the Lookout for a Teaching Moment

The sad reality is, you will find no shortage of bonehead driving moves to use as teaching moments during your time on the road. Keep an eye out for mistakes people are making and use this opportunity to discuss good and bad driving practices. These situations are a great time to talk about defensive driving tactics.

Dangers Zones for Teengers to be Aware of

Driver inexperienceDistracted driving
Driving with teen passengersDrowsy driving
Nighttime drivingReckless driving
Not using seat beltsImpaired driving

Teenage Driving Statistics by Year

2016 Teen Car Accident Statistics

  • There were 2,524 motor vehicle related deaths among teens.
  • 14% of teenage driver deaths were the result of distracted driving.
  • There was an 11% decrease from 2014 to 2015 in teen motor vehicle accidents.
  • Only 49% of high school students reported that they always wear a seat-belt.
  • 22% of teens admitted that they had ridden with a driver that had been drinking alcohol.
  • An estimated 8 teens died per day in car accidents.
  • June had the highest amount of accident deaths in teens, resulting in 260 fatalities.

2015 Teen Car Accident Statistics

  • There were 2,823 motor vehicle accidents among people age 13- to 19-years-old.
  • 2,228 teenagers died in motor vehicle accidents in 2015.
  • Of all motor vehicle crash deaths, teenagers accounted for 8%.
  • In the first part of 2015, 176 16 – 19 year-old drivers died in car accidents.
  • Overall, 16- and 19-year-old driver deaths increased 19 percent from 2014.
  • Only 55% of high school students reported that they always wear a seat-belt.
  • 14% of teenage driver deaths were the result of distracted driving.
  • Compared to all other days of the week, the most teen driving fatalities occurred on Friday and Saturday.

2014 Teen Car Accident Statistics

  • 3,115 teenagers died in car accidents.
  • About 2 out of every 3 teenagers killed in car accidents were males.
  • 62% of teenage car accident fatalities were drivers.
  • 59% of teenage passenger deaths occurred in vehicles driven by another teen.
  • 17% of all deaths of passengers was when a teen was behind the wheel.
  • 81% of teenage motor vehicle deaths were passengers.
  • 55% of teen car crash deaths happened on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.
  • 54%, or 1,532, of the 2,814 teens killed in car accidents weren’t wearing a seat belt.
  • 17% of fatal car accidents involving teens were related to texting and driving; distracted driving
Kelli Cooper
Kelli Cooper, writing for Kanetix, is a freelance writer who has been blogging about a variety of auto topics for several years. She has covered everything from how to write a great online used car ad to picking a car for your teen driver. Currently see enjoys traveling the world and her dream of traveling prompted her writing career and she is grateful to be able to make money anywhere she can grab an internet connection.

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