Driving is a core part of our daily lives. Often, it’s a necessary life skill that propels young people into the next phase of their life, so it’s very important that they are taught safe, responsible driving habits
It’s amazing just how much kids pick up on. Right from their earliest years through to young adulthood, they’re constantly learning and growing, and nothing influences them more than the parental figures in their life. Kids learn so many key skills from the adults closest to them: how to walk, talk, make friends, do well at school and, when they become a teenager, they begin to learn how to drive.
If your child is approaching the age when learning to drive is on the horizon, you need to try and set a good example. Just like when they were little, teenagers are still learning every day through exposure to their parental figures. 65% of young drivers say they’ve been influenced by their parents bad driving habits. It’s important to do your best to prevent them from picking up on anything, especially when it comes to staying safe on the roads today!
The first step in teaching your teen safe driving habits is encouragement. By being positive about driving, and the opportunities that being independent and mobile can bring to their life, you’re helping them stay positive about the experience.
Learning to drive can be daunting thing, and every young person reacts differently to the situation. Make sure you remain positive and encourage them to learn this new skill. If you inject them with a positive enthusiasm then they’ll want to learn and be a good driver!
Refresh Your Memory on Theory
It’s amazing how much we forget when it comes to driving theory. Despite being tested on it in order to become a qualified driver, a large proportion of driving adults can forget areas of this information. Many qualified drivers believe that, because they drive every day, they must remember all the right theory information. But this isn’t always the case, especially if it’s been a few years since you took your theory test!
As your teenager approaches the age when they’re thinking of learning to drive, spend a couple of hours refreshing your memory on the theory of driving, road signs, stopping distances and so on. Get a copy of the latest theory book to ensure you’re using the latest information that will be the most helpful for your teenager.
Lead By Example
This might sound obvious but ensuring that you’re setting a good example by demonstrating how to be a safe driver whenever your teenager is in the car is crucial. You may already be aware of some bad habits that you’ve developed over the years since you passed your test, or you may think you’re the safest driver in the world. Either way, there’s a very high chance that you may need to make some changes to your driving style in order to set a good example for your teenager.
Common Bad Driving Habits
When assessing the influence your driving style may have on your teen, make sure you look out for the following bad habits. You may not even realise you’re doing them!
Accelerating through yellow lights
- It really doesn’t matter how much of a rush you’re in! Speeding up to get through an amber light is dangerous.
Not actively checking your blind spots
- You might have done a quick mirror-check before moving into a different lane, but did you physically turn your head to check your blind spot was clear?
Not indicating, especially on roundabouts
- We all get frustrated when another driver doesn’t indicate their roundabout exit, so make sure you’re not repeating this mistake yourself.
- Stopping distances exist to keep both cars safe, so make sure you’re demonstrating a proper stopping distance at all times.
- Not only is speeding highly dangerous, but it’s also an offence. Although this sounds very obvious, your teenager will be heavily influenced by the speed you typically drive at. If you’re guilty of putting your foot down when you shouldn’t then stop this bad habit immediately!
Using your phone in the car
- Only recently are we starting to fully understand the negative consequences of using mobile phones in the car. They’re a major distraction and the cause of around 1 in every 4 motor vehicle accidents.
- By far one of the worst offenders when it comes to influencing your teenager and passing on bad driving habits is drink driving. 37% of young drivers confessed in a recent survey to have repeated the offence that they had seen carried out by their parents. This is 3 times more likely than young drivers who have not seen their parents drive under the influence.
Being caught drink driving can also result in a number of different penalties, ranging from heavy fines to driving bans to prison sentences. It is important to stress the importance of staying sober when in control of a vehicle to avoid these penalties and avoid a risk to life.
It Takes Time
Learning to drive is an important, and personal, experience. There’s no set time limit you need to learn in. Make sure that when you’re talking to your teenager, you’re not comparing them to yourself and how long it took you to learn to drive.
Try not to set their expectations but instead allow them to go through the process in their own time, giving them the space and independence they need to succeed.
Of course, it’s natural to feel nervous when teenagers start to learn to drive. It can feel like a big step into their own adult life. But just remember, there are still things you can do to help them stay safe out on the roads!
No matter who their driving instructor is, you can still guide them by showing them how to drive safely, talking to them about driving theory and encouraging them to do well. As long as you stay positive and remind them about safety on the roads, they’re bound to pick up on your good habits!