Well before your teenager obtains their driver’s license and embarks on solo journeys, they will likely spend numerous hours as passengers in your vehicle. These car rides present a valuable opportunity to instill safe driving habits in the upcoming generation of drivers even before they take the wheel.
Regardless of whether your young passengers are five or fifteen, there are teaching moments during each journey for every age group. Below, we share our top recommendations to inform, educate, and cultivate a positive learning environment for your young passengers!
Promoting Road Awareness:
As new drivers venture out on their own, there’s a lot to focus on for a safe journey from point A to point B. While many novice drivers are attentive to other vehicles on the road, the awareness of motorcyclists and cyclists is equally crucial. Cultivate the habit of spotting them early by engaging your children in a fun game. Instruct them to count motorcycles and cyclists, turning it into a friendly competition among passengers. Such simple games help establish a habit that contributes to road safety for everyone.
Setting a Positive Example:
Your children look up to you, and your driving habits serve as a model for theirs in the future. Your behavior behind the wheel establishes the standards for your young drivers. Always prioritize safe driving by setting radio stations and climate controls before embarking on your trip.
Refrain from distractions like texting or handling your phone while driving, setting a positive example for kids and young teens. Distracted driving is not only highly dangerous but also illegal in many places. Educate your children about the hazards of driving while distracted, highlight potential consequences, and reinforce the message through your own responsible behaviors.
Maintain composure in stressful driving situations. Your reactions during challenging conditions, such as nighttime driving, winter conditions, or busy roads, influence your young drivers-to-be. Demonstrate patience and respect for other drivers, riders, and pedestrians.
Understanding Road Rules:
Familiarizing young drivers with road rules, signs, signals, and potential hazards builds confidence and readiness for their driving future. Start with “Learn to Drive Smart Manual” from ICBC or start with the basics for younger children, explaining traffic light colors, the distinction between stop and yield signs, and how to scan for crosswalks and pedestrians. As they grow older, introduce more advanced concepts like lane changes, maintaining a consistent speed, merging, and navigating four-way stops.
During drives where you still have control, incorporate the practice of providing a “running commentary” by verbally describing each maneuver as it occurs. This detailed narration helps new drivers understand the intricacies of driving, fostering awareness of the various checks and thought processes involved.
Preparing for Emergencies:
Even if your teen isn’t yet driving, it’s never too early to learn essential skills such as filling a gas tank, assembling an emergency kit, or changing a tire. Teach your children to monitor fuel levels and keep the gas tank at least half-full for engine health and emergency preparedness.
While pre-made emergency kits are available, building your own allows you to discuss the importance of each item with young drivers. Demonstrate the use of booster cables and educate them on connecting them safely. Keep essential items like a phone charger, flashlight, ice scraper, folding shovel, gloves, and a warm blanket in the vehicle.
Reflective clothing is crucial for low visibility conditions, and a multi-tool and small first aid kit can be conveniently stored in the trunk or glove box. While sending your kids on the road alone for the first time may seem daunting, providing them with the necessary tools and knowledge ensures they can confidently and safely operate a vehicle.
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