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How to teach your child to become a safe driver

Most teens view getting their license as their first taste of freedom. Parents feel a little differently. Though you may be relieved to not have to drive your child everywhere, the nervousness you feel every time your child gets behind the wheel likely outweighs your sense of relief.

Texas has a graduated license system which helps teen get more driving experience before they are on their own. Even with restrictions on the number of passengers and the use of wireless devices, teens still lack the experience of other drivers. This makes them more likely to engage in dangerous behavior and put themselves at risk for accidents. As a parent, it is important to teach your teen how to behave safely while driving.

Wear a seatbelt

Teens learn by observing your behavior. Whenever you ride with your child, make sure you wear your seatbelt and encourage your teen to do the same.

Forbid certain behaviors while driving

A provisional license forbids the use of wireless devices, like a cellphone, while driving. Reiterate to your teen that he or she must keep a phone stowed while driving. You may also want to address other behaviors that can be distracting like eating, putting on makeup and fiddling with the radio. Emphasize how crucial it is that your teen’s eyes remain on the road the entire time he or she is driving.

Do not let them drive too far

You may also consider restricting how far from home your teen can drive. This will keep your child driving on familiar roads, and if it an incident occurs—be it a flat tire or an accident—you will be able to quickly reach your child.

Make sure your teen does not drink and drive

Obviously, your teen should not be drinking, but getting behind the wheel after drinking makes the situation much worse. Explain the dangers of drinking and driving to your teen and again, lead by example. Do not get behind the wheel after you have been drinking. You could also offer to pick them up, no questions asked, if your teen gets in situation when they should not be driving home.

Consider a driving contract

You could also consider having your teen sign a driving contract, which would lay out all these driving rules for him or her. Then if your teen violates the contract, there will be an agreed upon punishment, like losing the keys to their car or being grounded.

Teaching safe driving behaviors will give you peace of mind and will help better prepare your teen for situations he or she may encounter on the road.

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