You may have already studied up on the first part of this blog, but there are additional habits of mass destruction parents are handing down to the impressionable student drivers in their households. Before we get started, make sure you’re not reading this on your smartphone in the car with your teen. Setting a good example now will save you countless headaches and worry down the road.
Not giving enough practice time
We now live in a society where you can find a timesaving hack for almost anything. When it comes to learning how to drive, however, there is no substitute for practice. Our kids may be able to program an iPod in five seconds, but learning to drive still takes time. The rule of thumb is that parents should spend about 100 hours in the car with their teens observing and teaching safe driving techniques before student drivers have enough practice to venture out alone. Cutting corners on driving practice can leave your teen unprepared and at higher risk for driving problems.
Braking too hard or too late
Apart from the discomfort of breaking suddenly (hello, whiplash!), braking early and gradually is safer and better for your car. Anticipating slow-downs ahead of you on the road and gradually easing into a stop will save your brakes over time and reduces the chances of either rear-ending the person ahead of you or being rear-ended by the car behind you after a sudden stop. Put this technique to use even when your teen isn’t in the car so that it becomes muscle memory and you can more easily model it for you teen during driving practice.
Driving can turn even the kindest of people into irascible monsters. If your children are in the car, try to remember to take a deep breath and relax before you scream obscenities out the car window. This is a bad habit that your child may take as normal, and they may replicate it once behind the wheel themselves. Road rage can cause drivers to become distracted and can even lead to unsafe altercations with other drivers.
Drinking and driving
We’ve all heard about the dangers of drinking and driving, and yet it still happens more than one would expect. A recent national study revealed that parents who received DUIs also had children who admitted to driving under the influence. Don't let this happen to your family. Teach your kids to monitor their drinking (when they do eventually begin to drink) by doing this yourself, and don’t be too proud to admit that you’re too tipsy to drive - remember, your kids are watching.
Not obeying road signs
Just because no police cars are in sight doesn't mean you don't have to obey road signs. When parents ignore these markers kids are less likely to take them seriously too. If you do bend a rule with kids in the car make sure they know that this is an exception and they should not follow suit.
Taking the extra time and energy in the car with a young one will go a long way. You may not notice it right away, but each time you do something potentially unsafe in the car you could be putting someone in jeopardy when they get behind the wheel. Test your road sign knowledge now with our Traffic and Road Sign Practice Test.
Best of luck out there.