Are you instilling bad habits in your teen drivers (and future teen drivers)? As a parent, I love the idea that my kids will "do as I say and not as I do", but studies show that parents with poor driving habits produce teens with bad driving habits - regardless of what teens are told to do!
Speeding parents produce speeding teens and texting parents produce texting teens, it's just that simple. Teens surveyed about their parent's driving patterns list texting and driving as one of the most commonly observed bad habits amongst adult drivers. What parents don't realize is how powerful of a message they are sending to their kids about texting and driving. Parents often believe that their years of successful driving allows them the experience needed to text and drive safely (obviously the statistics disagree). Teens, on the other hand, believe their years of successful texting allows them the experience needed to text and drive safely (again, the statistics disagree), and when they see their parents texting and driving it is just further confirmation in their minds that a texting and driving accident won't happen to them.
Teens need good role models in all aspects of life, but even more so when it comes to driving. Teens are 4x more likely to crash than drivers over 30, and driving is still the leading cause of teen deaths in north America. In other words, driving can be deadly for your teen driver, passing along bad habits only increases the odds of your teen having an accident!
It is vital for parents to immediately replace bad driving habits with good ones and use your new habits as a teaching opportunity for your teen driver. There's nothing wrong with admitting to your teen that you've been acting dangerously as a driver but have made the commitment to be a safer, more responsible driver from now on. Then, follow up your words with a lot of action. From now on, every time you get in the car you should:
- Turn off your cell phone or put it away until you reach your destination
- If you must make a call or text, pull over first
- If you cannot pull over, have your teen be the designated texter or make a phone call for you
- Go the speed limit
- Don't drive recklessly
- Admit to a driving mistake and follow it up with instructions on what you should have done differently
- Drive the way you want your teen to drive!
It's never too late to make a good impression on teen drivers. If you've been setting a bad example, admit it and replace them with the good habits you'd like your teen driver to have.
Being a good role model is a great first step to insure you'll have a safe teen driver in your house. As an extra benefit, you'll be a lot less likely to be involved in an accident or get a ticket!