Is Your Teen Ready to Drive?

Is Your Teen Ready to Drive? | 911 Driving School

Handing over the keys to the car is a scary thing for a lot of parents. Even though laws say a teen can get their driver’s license at 16, it doesn’t mean that everyone is ready at the same time. Parents often wonder if their teen is ready to drive yet, but the key is expectations. Here are some ways you can make and use expectations to tell if they are ready and how you can help them along.

Why Expectations?

There are several expectations that States require students to meet before they can get their learner’s permit or their driver’s license. There are tests to take, forms to fill out, and hours to complete. The government expects everyone behind the wheel of a car to know a certain amount of laws before they can legally drive a vehicle. Driver’s education curriculums are full of information that potential drivers all need to know to help them.

Making Expectations

As the parent, you should set your own expectations that need to be met too. Some parents require their students to be on the honor roll or meet their curfew every night for a set amount of time. These show that your teen is ready, mature, and responsible enough to handle more responsibility by driving. If your teen is ready to drive, they will be willing to demonstrate it through meeting your expectations. Here are some tips on creating them.

Be fair and clear

Set expectations early enough that they can focus on reaching them before it is time to get a permit. Talk to them and make sure they understand what they should do and the reasoning behind it. Make expectations that are realistic and achievable.

Encourage them

Let your teen know that you are in their corner. Give them praise and encouragement. Also, try providing opportunities to succeed. If you are out driving together, point out things they are doing right.

Correct only as needed

Everyone makes mistakes when driving, especially when learning. Give loving correction without being overbearing or quick to yell.  If you are stressed out, it will only add tension to the entire experience for both of you.

After the License

Once your teen has met all expectations and gets their permit and license, it doesn’t end. Teens should know that you still have expectations for them. Being responsible is important to following the laws and knowing they are safe. Let them know your family rules for the car, their curfew, and any other expectations you have for them. Check up on your teen often and let them know you are watching and care about their well-being.

 

Another thing to remember is that you are still their driving teacher and advisor. Keep the communication lines open so that they can come to you at any time. Always be ready to answer any questions they might have or address any concerns. Remember, your teen is still learning the ropes of driving, and no one wants them to succeed more than you do. Keep encouraging and loving them along the way.

Driver Safety: Back to School

Driver Safety Back to School | 911 Driving SchoolAs schools are starting to be back in session, it’s an important time to review driving safely in these areas. During the school year, there are three major points of safety that every driver should remember. The first is what the laws of crosswalks are, the second is paying attention to school zones, and the third is how to drive when a school bus is present.

1. Crosswalk Laws

Crosswalks aren’t exclusive to schools, but there are more of them around a school. It is common for students to walk to school and have crossing guards to help them.

If you are approaching an intersection, the crossing guard is the traffic authority. They have been trained to help students cross safely and manage the flow of traffic at the same time. Drive slowly and pay attention to their movements. If they have a stop sign held up, you are required to stop. Do not proceed through the intersection until they had indicated it is safe by putting their sign down or waving you through.

Not all crosswalks have a crossing guard. If you see students waiting to cross or stepping into the road, you must stop. Let them cross and leave enough room that other drivers can see them too. Do not drive through the crosswalk until they have safely passed out of all the lanes going your direction.

Be extra vigilant at intersections where you are turning and have a walking signal. If you aren’t always watching and paying attention to pedestrians, you could cause a serious injury.

2. Paying Attention to School Zones

When school zone signs have flashing lights, slow down. This is an important law because it helps prevent serious problems. High numbers of students are going to school or heading home when these lights are flashing.

Young students are a bigger risk because they can step out on the road while not paying attention or chasing after something and not looking for cars. Driving at a reduced speed helps you to stop the car quickly.

Another thing to remember about school zones is that there are going to be a lot of extra cars and buses in the area transporting students. When there is heavy traffic, visibility can be lowered. Cars are also likely to pull in front of you, requiring a quick stop. Even when the sign indicates the end of a school zone, continue to be on high alert.

3. How to Drive When a School Bus is Present

The first rule of driving when a school bus is present is to watch for stops. If a school bus stops with flashing lights and an extended stop sign, you are required to stop.

Do not ever try to go around a school bus in this situation. First, because it’s illegal and second because there are students running to or getting off the bus and heading in all directions. Since drivers are required to stop, these students are not looking for oncoming traffic. You won’t be able to see everything a bus driver can so be sure to be patient.

The Importance of Passengers in the Car

The Importance of Passengers in the Car | 911 Driving School

Teen drivers have a lot stacked against them when they first get their licenses. If you were to poll adult drivers, most would probably say the biggest reason for teen car crashes is cellphones. While they are a cause for concern for all drivers, teen drivers are dealing with a bigger problem that isn’t an electronic device; peer passengers.

Startling Statistics

In the June 2015 issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health, a study on the role of passengers in teen drivers and serious crashes. The CDC confirmed their findings that teens driving with teen passengers increased the crash risk when left unsupervised. The risk of crashing increasing with each additional teen passenger.

Just having peers in the car can cause a teen driver to do more risky driving behaviors like speeding, driving erratically, and playing the music too loud. Having these distractions is even more significant during the first few months of having a license, especially since 59% of teen passenger deaths happen in cars driven by a peer.

Prevention

This information is helpful in guiding driving curriculums, but that isn’t enough. Teens require driving independently to get the experience needed to feel comfortable behind the wheel of a car. Data shows that new teen drivers need between 1,000 and 1,500 miles of independent driving before their risk of getting in a crash drops significantly.

In Illinois, drivers are limited to one passenger under the age of 20 until they have had their driver’s license for a year or they turn 18, whichever comes first. There are exceptions to this law, including driving a sibling, step-sibling, child or stepchild of the driver.

This is an example of graduated licensing laws. These grant privileges in stages, like limiting passengers and restricting nighttime driving. Every state has these in some form in the United States and it all started back in the mid-1990s. These licensing laws have been shown to substantially lower fatal crash rates in teenagers, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute.

Parents have a lot of influence in limiting distractions too. Make sure you stress and model the importance of driving safely, always. Whether you live in a state where these limitations apply, it is helpful if parents step in to encourage and enforce the rules. While you cannot control your child and the choices they make, you can set clear boundaries of expectations and talk to them more about making smart choices. Following up with questions of who was in the car and asking about distractions is also a great way to help keep your teen driver accountable.

 

Most adults remember the feeling of being able to drive friends around the first time. It is a lot of fun and comes with an increased level of independence, but it should be done safely. When teens understand the importance of limiting distractions, they can do better at keeping focused and reminding their friends to do the same.

A Parent’s Guide: Modeling Good Driving for Your Teen

Modeling Good Driving

Teaching your teenager to drive starts long before you hand them the keys to the car. Even if you don’t feel like they still follow you around, watching your every move, they still do. Setting a good example for being a responsible, safe driver is vital to their success on the road. Here are some ways you can make your child a great driver.

Prepare Before You Drive

Make sure you are calm and ready to drive before you get behind the wheel. Don’t drive when you are stressed, angry, or distracted. Feeling this way prohibits you from maneuvering your vehicle in a calm and careful way. If you aren’t calm, you are more likely to experience road rage or show impatience and not follow all the laws. When you are calm and focused, you can talk effectively to your teen about the things you see on the road.

If you are impaired in any way, don’t drive. This includes situations where you have been drinking, doing drugs, taking medications, or are overly tired. Point out to your teen that you are not fit to drive and teach them alternate ways to get home, if necessary, like calling a friend or a driving service to pick you up. It is never too early to stress the importance of safe driving.

Teach as You Drive

Make sure you always wear your seatbelt. Don’t ever pull out of your driveway until you have checked that all your passengers are buckled up too. This teaches your children that safety is a priority in your car and you expect them to follow the rules.

As you are out on the road, say out loud the safe practices you are doing. Follow the laws, including driving under the speed limit. If you notice people driving incorrectly around you, point out what they did wrong and teach what they should have done. Talking to your teen about it will help bring things to their attention. Don’t get upset if someone cuts you off or does something aggressive toward you. Set the example and show how your teen how you would like them to respond if they were in your position.

Another way you can follow the law and make a big difference is by not using your cellphone while you drive. Your kids are all watching when you use it, even if you think they aren’t. Pull out of traffic and onto the side of the road if you need to use your phone. Handing it to them to read or respond to messages helps teach them you take this rule seriously. Don’t make exceptions for yourself or teach them that you can get away with it.

Reinforce What You Teach

As a parent, it can be hard to hear your child correct you. When your child points out that you are doing something wrong, like driving too fast, forgetting your seatbelt, or using your phone while driving, don’t brush it off.  Remember, this means that they are paying attention to what you are trying to teach them. Thank them for noticing and immediately try to do better. By setting a good example for your future driver, you are helping them see good driving in action and that is the best way to learn.