Drivers Education for Teens and Parents

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One of the greatest fears many parents face when their kids turn 16 is that they are legally old enough to drive but they are not prepared due to the obvious lack of experience but also to the natural immaturity that comes with that age. While it is nerve-wracking, it is also necessary for them to learn to drive as part of the process of becoming independent individuals.

 According to the Centers for Disease, Control and Prevention, the following facts are on their website:

  • Motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of death for teens in the U.S.
  • Motor vehicle crashes among teens between 16-19 yrs old, the majority involve male kids.
  • Newly licensed teens have a much higher crash risk during the first months on licensure.

These and many more reasons are why we need to make sure that teens obtain driving education that teaches them to be safe, mindful and responsible of themselves, their vehicle value and those around them.

Every parent with a teen driver needs to make sure that their kid is aware of the leading causes of death among teen drivers

1.Impaired driving
2. Reckless driving
3. Distracted driving
4. Lack of use of seatbelts
5. Driving inexperience

When a teen is learning to drive it is extremely important that he or she learns the right habits from the beginning. Driving is a complex skill that needs to be taken seriously and supervised by a responsible adult at all times. Graduate Driver Licensing (GDL) Systems are focused on skill building and more parent involvement during the learning period. If parents follow the guidelines and are educated in their state GDL laws, they can help enforce the laws and keep teens safe while driving.

On dosomething.org, a site that encourages young people to make a positive change, the following facts about teen driving are listed:

  • 56% of teenagers rely on their parents to learn how to drive
  • Teen drivers with involved parents are twice as likely to wear seatbelts

Researchers from CDC and other health-related organizations suggest that parents use a written agreement that clearly outlines the rules of the road with their teen drivers. This is a tool that could potentially prevent accidents and even fatalities caused by inexperienced drivers. The agreement should include the rules addressing the leading hazards for teen drivers, the consequences for violating the rules, the teen’s financial and other responsibilities, safe ride clause, permission to use the car and should be signed by parents and teen(s).

Teen driving education is not just for the kids but also for the parents. Educating parents about what they should focus on when teaching and supervising their teen is the key to overcoming the challenge that we face of engaging them in their kids driving.

Factors involved in this challenge are:

1.Parents do not recognize the risk
2. Parents aren’t familiar with GDL and view it as a guideline or maximum standard
3. Parents don’t have time
4. Parents think their teen is a good and safe driver just because he is a responsible kid
5. Despite not being the best role models, parents do not accept any advice

A few states have adopted programs that require parent education when a new teen driver attempts to obtain a permit. While this is something very new, it would be wonderful if all states within the U.S. adopted such programs. The more actively involved parents are in their kids safe driving, the less likely teens will engage in risky behaviors. Parents need to take the lead in helping their teens build the skills they need through expensive practice and ongoing coaching.