Drivers Training is a great starting point for teaching young teens the rules of the road and to get them some experience behind the wheel, but as any parent of a new driver has already figured out, there is still plenty to learn before they should begin driving on their own. Michigan’s Graduated Licensing Program puts that responsibility in the hands of parents and guardians with a Graduated Level 1 License by requiring 50 hours of driving, with 10 of those being nighttime hours spent with their teen behind the wheel before they can even attempt to pass their driving test and gain their Graduated Level 2 License. During that time, here are the ten things to teach your young driver so you (and they) can feel confident behind the wheel.
Good Drivers Aren’t Born, They’re Made
One of the most dangerous things about young drivers learning how to navigate the roads is that they simply lack experience which is one of the most critical elements of becoming a good driver. Although some may believe that people are either born natural drivers or they aren’t, the truth is that a good driver is created by consistently honing their craft by driving frequently.
Practice Makes Progress
They used to say practice makes perfect but more often we’ve found that practice makes progress. With each new element that teen drivers are introduced to such as night driving, inclement weather the closer they can come to mastering it. So while it may make parents nervous to let their teens try new situations, in the end it’s exactly what they need to experience to become a safe driver. That being said, it’s important to gauge where your young driver is at in their lessons to determine if they are ready for the next challenge.
Look & Scan Ahead
In talking to a 3rd Party State Road Tester, he shared how studies have shown that new drivers only scan their mirrors a tiny fraction of the amount that seasoned drivers do. By not doing so, young drivers don’t have as much time to react to situations as someone else with more experience. Constantly remind your driver to be looking approximately 12-15 seconds ahead of the vehicle, as well as scanning their mirrors every 5-8 seconds. This will make them not only more spatially aware of vehicles around them, it will give them more options to avoid a collision.
the National Safety Council’s Defensive Driving Course defines defensive driving skills as “driving to save lives, time, and money, in spite of the conditions around you and the actions of others.” It is being aware of your surroundings, being prepared for the unexpected and not assuming that the other driver will do what they are supposed to while giving yourself time to react in case they do not. This is achieved by maintaining an awareness of road conditions, such as slowing traffic or construction ahead, as well as anticipating potential hazards, like erring drivers or bad weather.
Distracted driving accounts for approximately 25% of all motor vehicle crash fatalities but reported to be a cause of more than an alarming 58% of all teen crashes. While distracted driving has been called an American epidemic, the sad truth is it is completely preventable. Talk to your teen frequently about the hazards of driving while distracted and your expectations for them to remove possible distractions from themselves before getting behind the wheel.
Know The Vehicle
Have you ever rented a vehicle and felt completely frazzled when you didn’t know how to turn the headlights on when you needed them or even the windshield wipers? If you have, you can empathize with your young driver that they probably don’t know what all the gadgets and switches do in your vehicle when they start driving. Take the time to go over how to use everything, including the ac and heat, radio, headlights, wipers, etc in the vehicle before they need to use them to help reduce anxiety and to keep them safer on the road.
It’s something you don’t even think about anymore but your teen has probably never pumped gas before. Take them to the pump and show them how to work the credit card machine at the pump and how to go inside to pay just in case they need to use either. Show them the small arrow above their gas gauge that denotes which side of the vehicle their tank is on and go over which level of octane they should always use when getting gas.
Unofficial Rules Of The Road
Every seasoned driver knows there are unofficial rules of the road that we all expect people to follow. Whether it’s waving your thanks when someone lets you in or giving people space to merge on the highway, they are just nice customs we’ve created over the years. To save your teen driver from inadvertently angering another driver try to discuss these unwritten rules as they earn their hours behind the wheel with their GDL 1.
If you’ve ever noticed all the different colors on the posts at fast food and bank drive-thrus, then it should come as no surprise that these narrow drives can be tricky for drivers to navigate. Help your teen spare their vehicle an unsightly scrape down the side by practicing with them while you’re in the vehicle and can help guide them along.
Many teens think that their role as a driver stops at controlling the vehicle but the truth is they should think of themselves as captains of their vehicle With this mindset, they are in charge of the safety of everyone inside their vehicle and as such, they need to make sure passengers are buckled properly and are not partaking in any unsafe behavior that can distract them as the driver and/or cause harm to themselves while they are riding along.
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