(BPT) - Do you remember the excitement of getting your driver's permit and license? For teens, driving represents freedom and independence. However, they must understand it's a privilege with serious responsibilities.
You may be feeling some anxiety about your teen driver, but you can help prepare them for this important milestone. Before letting your teenager behind the wheel, check out these four tips that can help them get ready to hit the road.
1. Drill the basics
Before you hit the road, train your teen on the basics. Show them how to adjust the seat, steering wheel and the side and rearview mirrors to suit their needs. Make sure they can locate the car registration, insurance card and car manual and discuss situations they'll need to pull them out.
Also, take a few minutes to review the vehicle controls and demonstrate how each works. For example, point out and explain the dashboard controls, turn signals, headlights, safety features like airbags and seat belts, wipers, emergency lights, parking brake and release, engine on/off and warning indicator lights.
2. Review rules and responsibilities
Talk with your teens about the rules and responsibilities of driving so they can get themselves and their passengers safely from Point A to Point B. It's especially important to emphasize that driving requires their full attention and that removing or reducing distractions, such as their phone, is essential.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a teen's chances of crashing increase six times when dialing a phone and 23 times when texting. Meanwhile, State Farm's 2023 Distracted Driving survey found that drivers who had their license for five years or less were significantly more likely to use smartphone apps and record and watch videos while driving than drivers who had been licensed for more than 10 years.
Let your teens benefit from your driving knowledge and experience. Share stories about distracted driving and the outcomes for drivers, passengers and pedestrians. These stories can help them understand that even a momentary distraction can lead to serious consequences.
3. Practice driving at night
Experienced drivers know driving at night is more difficult than during the day. Practice is essential to staying safe while driving in the dark.
More than half of the State Farm survey respondents did not have nighttime driving practice while learning to drive. Nearly half did not feel they had sufficient driving practice overall before getting a license. Make sure your young driver gets some night-driving experience so you're both more comfortable with evening outings.
4. Be a good role model
Your teen's driving education starts at home. You can't rely solely on driver's education class to teach your teen the rules of the road and safe driving practices. Model safe driving practices by remembering to buckle up and always keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.
Also, when you're in the driver's seat — whether it's to the grocery store, school or sports practice — use the trip to explain the choices you're making behind the wheel. You can also share tips you learned from your driving experiences that may not be covered in class.
Be proactive and get your teen road ready this summer. Using these four tips and other Teen Driving 101 tips from State Farm, you can ensure your teen is prepared to get behind the wheel.