Teaching your kids to drive is can be a scary thought, but it is entirely necessary to help them earn their freedom. It’s a right of passage that you’ll need to embrace if you want to help your teen be a safe driver. One of the most important concepts of driving, especially with the technology available today, is focusing on the road at all times. It is incredibly easy to get distracted, which directly impairs your child’s ability to drive.
To making matters worse, it may not always be obvious what may cause a driver to lose focus. Something as small as wearing headphones counts as distracted driving and reduces your teen’s awareness and ability to react. With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of tips to help you emphasize the need to focus as you teach your kid how to drive. Here are some tips to encourage this behavior below.
Anticipate and Appreciate Road Distractions
A good starting point is to teach your teen to anticipate and appreciate road distractions. Unfortunately, many things can be distracting while driving. Smartphones are the most obvious hazard, but your child may also be distracted by music, navigation apps, passengers and other electronic devices. Other distractions are less obvious. This includes things like eating food, grabbing for something from the back seat, interacting with a passenger, and seeing something interesting on the side of the road. It may seem like common sense to avoid these distractions, but your teen may know the risks and engage in them anyway.
To combat this, they need to appreciate and understand the risks of distracted driving. Let them know that distracted driving is the leading cause of car accidents, and that teen drivers are at the highest risk. Try to incentivize focused driving by offering rewards for good driving habits, also know that most insurance companies reward good driving habits. If your child can anticipate the risks of distracted driving, then they’ll remember why they should avoid doing it. This makes them more likely to focus on the road.
Check Mirrors Frequently and Use Your Safety Tech
While they’re driving, your child should make a point to check their mirrors frequently and utilize your on board safety tech. Current safety tech helps to to establish an understanding of the surrounding road, but proper mirror usage is a must for training purposes. This will help your child know if other drivers are nearby and where they are located. Information like this is critical to know if they need to suddenly swerve to avoid an accident.
This habit encourages focusing on the road. Looking at your mirrors requires active attention and effort, meaning that your teen’s eyes aren’t looking at a screen or other distractions. When your teen has a good habit of checking their mirrors often, they’ll have greater awareness and better focus as a result.
Constantly Scan the Road
Another important practice is to constantly scan the road for potential hazards. Mirrors are useful for seeing what’s behind you and to your side, but they don’t cover the road in front of you. This is much more important because it’s where you’re going.
With this in mind, your teen should be scanning the road when they aren’t checking their mirrors. This will provide them with coverage on all four sides, giving them a lot to look at and no time to engage in distractions. There’s often a lot to keep track of, so your teen will certainly be busy scanning the road. Hazards can appear at any moment and may require a quick response.
A great example of this includes a sizable pothole in the road. If your child is constantly scanning the road, they’ll detect this when other cars are affected as they drive over the pothole and adjust accordingly. Scanning the road is crucial to driving, but it also means that your teen’s eyes will be focused on the right spot.
Lastly, your teen should aim to drive alone as much as possible. One of the greatest distractions while driving can be your kid’s passengers. As they begin to drive without your guidance, they’ll likely want to drive their friends around. While this is certainly fun for them, it’s also fairly dangerous. Teens are likely to converse and engage in behavior that is extremely distracting for a driver and ups the likelihood of risky behaviors.
The easiest response to this is to limit how often they have passengers in the car. Explain to them how distracting passengers can be even if they don’t intend to be. While it is important to know how to drive with passengers, it’s better until your kid wait and their friends can appreciate the need to focus on the road while driving.
The thought of your child driving is stressful, but you have to trust them and remember that you learn best by driving. By giving them the best instruction possible, you can give them the tools needed to succeed.