Approximately 64% of traffic incidents in the United States involve cell phones. Many experts are referring to this problem as an epidemic because it is so prevalent in our society. Teens across the nation are learning to drive and form habits that will last the rest of their life. They need to be instructed on the dangers of distracted driving from the beginning to help stop the problem and parents can play a key role in this education. Here are three things parents can do to help prevent their teen from texting and driving.
- Set a good example. Many parents have the attitude of “do as I say, not as I do”, but experts have always found that kids learn more from an adult’s example. When you get a text while driving, what do you do? Remember, your kids are watching.
Most states have passed laws dealing with distracted driving, especially with the use of cellphones. Simply telling your teen not to text and drive is not enough. You must teach them what to do instead. Here are some ways to deal with receiving and sending texts when you’re driving.
- If you have someone in your car, you can have them read it to you and respond.
- Pull over to the side of the road before looking at your phone.
- Wait until you get to your destination before worrying about your messages.
Remember that you must practice what you preach. These are all great options for dealing with texting and driving, helping to make sure they stay safe behind the wheel.
- Talk about it.
Education is key to preventing behaviors. There are plenty of resources available to show the consequences of watching a cellphone instead of the road. Swerve Driving Schools has resources that include videos of what could possibly happen, statistics, and curriculum that teaches the laws involving cellphones.
The dangers of texting and driving are real. Every look at the phone is estimated to take five seconds. Whether it is freeway speeds or driving through a neighborhood, looking down for even a couple of seconds can have serious consequences. A child running in the road, another driver changing lanes, traffic slowing or stopping are all common occurrences that require vigilance on the road. Reinforcing these teachings at home is vital to teens remembering them. Set specific rules for phones in the car and enforce them.
- Check up on your teens.
There are several ways you can make sure that your teen is being a safe driver.
- Ask them if they text and drive.
- Check their phone when they get home.
- Use parental apps that block texting and driving.
- Watch them if you pass each other on the road.
Parents feel like checking up on their teen breaks trust and ruins the relationship. Remember that your job is to be a parent and that you are teaching them correctly. It is better to make sure your teen is doing what’s right behind the wheel than getting a call that they have been hurt or hurt someone else through neglectful behavior.
Congratulations on having a teen driver! This is an exciting time for your student, but often a stressful time for you, as their parent.
You’ve done your homework in researching driving schools and new driver training techniques, educating yourself on how you can best help your student become a good, safe driver.
What is Commentary Driving?
As good as your intentions are at imparting the best driving tips and advice onto your student driver while out on a training drive, sometimes you’re doing more harm than good.
If you’ve gone out on any training drives with your student, you know how tense and uncomfortable it can be for both you and your driver: your student is nervous and you’re unintentionally adding to their uneasiness through barking commands and criticism.
Instead of shouting out commands to your student and harping on their mistakes, why not be quiet and instead praise them for what he or she did right?
This is what’s behind commentary driving.
As the name implies, there is a conversation, or series of comments that are said while out driving with your teen.
Contrary to what you may think, it is your student, not yourself, who is doing all the commenting. For this driving technique to be effective, parents are discouraged from saying much during the drive.
The comments said by the student are to be their observations of the surrounding traffic conditions. The comments can be short phrases and incomplete sentences. Your student needs to say their observations out loud.
An example of something a teen driver can say is “I am going 45 miles per hour, but am approaching a red light, so I’ll begin to slow down. There is a blue car two car lengths behind and there is another car in the left lane making a turn and waiting for a pedestrian to cross.”
The more descriptive and specific the student’s observations are, the better. If your student doesn’t say anything, ask them why, what they are thinking about and how they would have handled the situation differently.
The only time you should speak is immediately after the student makes a noticeable mistake. Right after the mistake has been made, tell your student to safely pull over onto the side of the road and briefly go over what went wrong.
After the drive, go over the whole drive with your student, praising him or her for what they handled well and asking them what they learned from their mistakes. It is crucial that during this time you ask your student to give a self-assessment on how they think they did and wheat they learned.
The Benefits of the Commentary Driving Technique
As a parent, the most important things you want to come out of each training drive are an increase in your student’s confidence in their driving abilities and an improvement in their familiarity with operating a vehicle.
Both desired outcomes will be more likely if your student has a more enjoyable behind the wheel driving experience.
The benefits of commentary driving aim to reduce the stress, anxiety and tension that comes from traditional practice driving techniques.
Here are some of the other benefits of commentary driving:
- Improves the driving confidence of student drivers by lowering their nervousness and tendency to second-guess themselves
- Gives both the student and the parent an idea of the student’s driving knowledge, decision-making abilities and how well they are paying attention to their surroundings
- The added silence lets the student to better concentrate and observe as well as feel more at ease
- The instant correction after a mistake is more impactful because the incident is fresh in their minds
- The praise and the opportunity for them to critique themselves empowers student drivers so they gain confidence
- Speaking their thoughts, observations and decisions out loud makes students more assertive and comfortable while also putting into practice what they learned in driver’s education
If you haven’t tried the commentary driving technique with your student driver, it is worth a try. It will lower both yours and your teen driver’s stress which will make for more enjoyable drives and a more confident soon-to-be driver.
For your student to begin on-the-road driving lessons, he or she must be first enrolled in a driver’s education course at a state licensed driving school.
At Swerve Driving School, we help equip teen drivers to become skilled, safe drivers. For more information about our driver’s education, fleet training, or adult driving courses, contact us today.
Kids grow up watching movies and television shows that are filled with over-the-top car races and chasing scenes that involve sleek and sexy vehicles, but parents watch a different “show.” They watch their babies grow into teenagers who have learned to legally drive and without question this comes with happiness that is laced with a tinge of fear.
Once your teen can drive, you want them to say “yes, mom and dad, your incredibly safe and airbag filled minivan IS cool, I wouldn’t want to drive anything else, ” but we all know that is not the case. Teenagers are knee deep in the time of life when being “cool” is their major concern. Not to worry, there are plenty of vehicles out there that have been designed to handle wear and tear, are affordable, and most of all safe.
Here are a few things to consider when the day comes that you buy a vehicle for your teen driver:
- Bigger = Safer – Heavier vehicles are safer and will always win in a time of a collision. SUVs are dependable and a wise choice for your teen driver
- Avoid high horsepower – Your teen is most likely to think that the beefier the engine the better, but the power that comes with these vehicles should be avoided for new drivers. Plain and simple – they just don’t have the experience yet to understand how horsepower effects a vehicle and are likely to not know how to safely operate them
- Look for electronic stability – This technology has been mandatory in vehicles since 2012. It automatically helps the driver maintain stability while navigating sharp turns/curves or rain and snow covered roads. There is proof that this technology has cut single-vehicle fatal crashes nearly in half. This is a MUST feature
The fatal rate for teenagers is three times higher than all other drivers, but there is good news. Within the past 10 years, the safety requirements for vehicles have improved immensely. The auto industry has been required to improve the safety aspects of all their vehicles. Any parent will worry no matter what, but there are reliable and safe vehicles to choose from that can help put your mind at ease.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has compiled a list of vehicles, which they have categorized into “good choices” and “best choices.” This shows the best large cars, midsize cars, small SUVs, midsize SUVs, large SUVs, minivans, and pickups in both the “good choices” and “best choices” categories, all of which start under $20, 000.
However, because nearly 85 percent of parents purchase used vehicles for their teen driver they will most likely have to compromise on some of the criteria, which puts most affordable vehicles in the “good choices” category. But not to worry… these vehicles are just as they say – “good” choices.
Make sure your teens start their driving journey with proper training and plenty of experience. Giving them the necessary skills to know how to navigate in the world of driving is the only way to truly help them stay safe on the road.
Get more information at goswerve.com