How to Teach Your Teenager About Defensive Driving

Defensive driving for teens

When your teenager starts learning to drive, it can be a scary process at first. One of the single best ways to reduce the likelihood of your teen getting into an accident is teaching him or her defensive driving. Here are a few of the top things your teenager should know.

Why Defensive Driving Matters

First of all, what is defensive driving? This set of practices is designed to help drivers handle dangerous situations on the road. The underlying principle is that while you can’t control the actions of other drivers, you can control your own, and by taking a few precautionary measures you can decrease your chances of getting hurt.

Showing Courtesy and Patience

The first and most important defensive driving strategy you should teach teenagers is patience. The road is not a good place to aggressively assert themselves, even if they have the right of way. Explain to your teenager that it’s a good idea to remember some people won’t always yield or wait their turn, and when you come across rude drivers, it’s better to simply take a deep breath and let it go. Teach your child to never drive aggressively, tailgate someone, or otherwise try to prove a point. “Winning” a driving dispute could pose a danger, result in a collision, accident, or traffic ticket.

Staying Alert

Next, be sure to teach your teenager to pay attention to the surroundings. Although many new drivers focus on the area immediately in front of the vehicle, encourage teens to look farther down the road, so they’ll have more time to react to unexpected problems. Tell them to check their mirrors and blind spots occasionally so they stay aware of what’s going on. You should also teach your teenager how to anticipate what’s going to happen—for example, turn signals indicate a car might begin slowing down, and timers on crosswalks can indicate a light is about to change.

Avoiding Trouble

Your teen should know how to avoid potential problems. Make sure he or she knows how to change lanes and come to a sudden stop. If your car has an ABS system, encourage the teen to keep pressing the brakes even if there is resistance; if your car has conventional brakes, teach the teenager how to keep them from locking up. It’s also a good idea to remind young drivers to leave several seconds of following distance between them and the car in front.

Setting an Example

Finally, make sure you set a good example for your teenager by driving carefully, avoiding distractions, and being courteous. Enjoy your time on the road by making sure all your drivers are staying safe.