Driver Knowledge Tests

Learning how to drive: How to keep your teen safe on the road

Most teens are interested in learning to drive. Depending on where you live, driving might be a necessity for commuting and getting around. Teens find that getting their license is an important milestone for independence, and it’s a key step toward adulthood. But how can you make sure your child is safe on the road?

Leading by example

As we get older and spend more time behind the wheel of a car, it’s easy to cut corners. Maybe we don’t always use our indicator, or we speed up to get through a yellow light when we should slow down, or we don’t keep a three second following distance. But when you’re driving with your teen in the car, it’s important to lead by example. Your child spends most of their time in the car with you. You are their main example for how to drive. If you demonstrate safe driving habits, your teen will be more likely to follow those habits. It helps to brush up on the rules of the road. Find out about the little details you might have forgotten: how far to stay back from a railroad crossing, which way to turn your tyres on a hillside curb, when to turn your indicator on before making a turn, and so on.

Educating about the basics

Before your teen starts driving, make sure they know some basic safety rules of the road. For example, they should always wear their seat belt. Every state requires passengers to wear a seat belt. Seat belts greatly increase your chances of survival in an accident. Teach your child about what different road markings mean, the give way rules, road signs, speed limits and lane discipline. Explain why these things exist and how they help both you and other drivers. Answer questions your teen has. If you don’t know the answer, look it up from a trusted online source like your state government website.

Purchasing a safe vehicle

One key way to keep your teen safe is to make sure they drive a safe vehicle. Modern cars are outfitted with extra safety features that make them less likely to cause serious injuries or fatalities in a crash. In addition to having airbags and crumple zones, some cars have smart technology. They can slow down automatically to prevent collisions (autonomous emergency braking), monitor your blind spots to warn you when someone is too close, and sense pedestrians to keep you from accidentally hitting someone while reversing.

If you’re trying to purchase a car, used modern cars are less expensive than new ones. You can take out a personal loan from a private lender to afford the vehicle. Car payments don’t need to be a huge burden on you and your family. You might be tempted to buy an old junker car for your teen. But if you want to buy the safest vehicle, it’s best to go with something more modern. Even modern cars without smart technology are designed better than the cars of a couple of decades ago.

Darren is an expert on driving and transport, and is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists

Posted in Advice