Becoming a safe driver requires a lifetime commitment. From the day we first get our driver's license to the day we watch our children get theirs, we assume greater and more varied responsibilities to ourselves and to those around us. As drivers, we are always responsible for our own safety. As parents, we are also responsible for our children. Taking the time to ensure they are prepared to tackle what lies ahead is a key part of our job, especially when it comes to driving.
Here are our recommendations to help prepare your young driver to be the safest driver possible:
Set a good example. Studies have shown that kids drive like their parents. If you speed (even a little), forget to wear a seatbelt (even once or twice), or drive with distractions (even on rare occasions), it can set a bad example. Show your kids that you know how to be a safe driver. Know that they are watching you and learning from you at every minute, and always drive as you hope they will drive.
Make safe driving a family discussion. Talk to your kids about safe driving. Demonstrate that you care about their safety, and ensure they understand the responsibilities that come with having a driver's license.
Drive with your teen as much as possible. There is no replacement for experience, so take advantage of every possible opportunity to coach your children behind-the-wheel. Focus their attention on possible dangers and ensure they know how to drive safely and responsibly in different conditions and locations. Safety Insurance has partnered with Safe Roads Alliance and Travelers Marketing to develop the first "The Parent's Supervised Driving Guide". The guide provides detailed instruction for parents in helping them teach their teens how to drive. This guide will be provided to all operators at the time they receive their learners permit. In Massachusetts, this guide will be mailed to all learners' permit recipient's within two to three weeks after a teen receives his/her permit. In New Hampshire the guide will be distributed by the New Hampshire Driver Education Teachers Association (NHDETA) to all teens taking a driver's education course. Download guide.
Make sure your children know the roads. When we're lost, we tend to pay less attention to driving, and more attention to landmarks and road signs. Many young drivers find themselves "constantly lost" and, as a result, more vulnerable. Take the time to teach your child how to get where they need to go. Take out a map and show them where things are, and the main roads. Accompany your teen on different routes and make sure they know how to handle all intersections and turns along the way.
Find a good drivers' education class. Take drivers education class shopping seriously. Find a teacher who cares about producing the best (not the most) drivers. Contact past students and their families for referrals.
Set the rules early. Consequences can provide good, effective supplements to Massachusetts laws. Here are some suggestions:
a. Make an advanced driver training course a prerequisite to driving on their own.
b. Be clear - as a driver your teen will be responsible for all tickets, fines, and insurance surcharges incurred while they are driving.
c. ANY drinking and driving and the car is gone. Period. No ticket required. No exceptions and no excuses.
Take an In Control Crash Prevention course with your child. You will learn a lot about safe driving and reinforce the importance of safety consciousness with your new driver.
Make the driver responsible for car care and maintenance. The more involved teens are, the more they will care about the car, and the more they care, the better driver they will become.
Creating Safer Drivers plan courtesy of In Control Crash Prevention. For more information, visit: www.DriveInControl.com/SafetyInsurance.