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Top Five Things to Teach your Teenage Driver


I am fortunate enough to live in a state where you are required to have your learners permit for at least a year. I say fortunate because it took that year for my parents to get used to the idea of me driving. My mom is the picture perfect backseat driver. My father was forced to sit in the front seat and teach me the ropes of driving, due to the fact that if my mother were to be in the front seat she would have a heart attack. Needless to say when I received my learners permit my mother was horrified every time I got behind the wheel.

My mother would sit in the back seat and shriek and cringe anytime I would change lanes or approach an unprotected left turn. However I was learning to drive. I remember thinking to myself "I can't wait until I am sixteen and I don't have to deal with the added anxiety of my parents in the car." After experiencing those couple of years learning the ropes of driving I have done some thinking and come up with five things to teach your teenage driver.

The number one, most important thing to teach your teenage driver is give yourself enough room from the car in front of you.

If your teenage driver is following too closely to the car in front of them and they are forced to slam on the brakes your teenage driver has nowhere to go but into the back of the other car, resulting in an accident. It is one of the best habits to form. Not to mention if your teenage driver has a habit of following too closely and they are involved in an accident their insurance premiums are going to skyrocket.

The second thing to teach a teenager is to always wear your seat belt.

This is not just for your teenage driver. If you as a parent do not wear a seat belt, odds are your teenage driver has picked up on that. Seat belts are there for a reason. They save lives. That is why states have seat belt laws. They are not a fashion statement or a driving accessory. So wear a seat belt.

Keep in consideration the volume of the radio, passengers and other distractions.

There is no reason that the volume level of music must seem like you are standing next to the speaker at a hip hop concert. Not only is it damaging to your teenage driver's hearing, but also very distracting. I know when I was going through the faze, where the music in my car had to be so loud that every car around me was able to hear the newest music mix, I was unable to listen to just one CD, so I was continually searching under my seat for a new one. Obviously my focus was not directed at my driving.

Passengers in some states are restricted for beginning drivers but even if your state does not have this restriction you can limit the amount of people your teenager can carry with him or her. Having other passengers, especially other teens in the car with a young driver can be disastrous. A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report found that when teenage drivers transport passengers there is a greatly increased crash risk with greater risk associated with more passengers. In fact, when there are multiple passengers, the crash risk is 3 to 5 times greater than driving alone. The study found that in California, Massachusetts and Virginia, passenger restrictions reduce crashes among 16 year-old drivers.

Keeping distractions to a minimum is something a teen needs to be taught. Whether the distraction is fiddling with the radio, CDs, MP3 player, talking to other passengers or using with their cell phone anything that keeps their eyes off the roadway for any period of time or pulls their focus away from operating the car on the roadway can make them a danger to themselves and others.

Another very important thing to teach your teenage driver is to service your vehicle on a regular basis.

It is important that your vehicle always be in tiptop shape. If your tires are bald and your brakes are not well maintained you will be unable to stop as sharply and quickly thus increasing your odds of an accident. Also you do not want a teenager to experience a breakdown in the middle of traffic and cause an accident. Always make sure that your vehicle is running to its best potential. Show them how to check the tire pressure, oil level and teach them how to change a tire so they can learn to take care of the car themselves as well.

Lastly never drive without Auto Insurance.

Countless numbers of people in the United States are driving without insurance. The Insurance Research Council (IRCC) estimates that nearly 1 in 6 motorists may be driving without insurance in the next few years due to the economical downturn. If you or your teen are caught driving without insurance, your license and registration may get suspended. Getting a suspended license is both an aggravating and costly experience. As a parent, how do you get to work to pay any bills if you have a suspended license? How do you get your children to school?

If you or your child is involved in an accident while not carrying insurance you may have to carry a SR-22, which is a financial responsibility to the state. You also can be held personally responsible for the damages you caused leaving all of your assets at risk during a lawsuit. Always carry insurance and carry as much coverage as you can afford because even if you have insurance a person that hits you may not and thus leaving you to claim against your own coverages. Teach your teen driver how important insurance is and why it should be carried, per state law, at all times.

Try to keep all of these things in mind while you are teaching your teenage driver how to drive, be patient and offer your guidance. It is important to be confident behind the wheel. Even if your state allows your child to start driving on their own once they have passed from their permit period to the next stage of the state's graduated driver's license if you see they do not have the skills to drive alone keep practicing with them until they do and are a confident enough driver to operate a vehicle safely by themselves.

If someone has not been taught to drive properly they are lacking confidence. A confident driver makes for a good driver. I would also recommend signing your teenager up for a driver's education class and driving course. If anything it will reinforce the things you teach them while they are driving. Best of luck to you and your teenager, from the entire team.


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