Making Your Teen a Safe Driver

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Making Your Teen a Safe Driver
In a recent survey, three out of four teens said parents are the biggest influence over how they drive. Good parents want their children to be able to tackle all of life's challenges. Here are some tips on how you can play an active role in the process:

Before you hit the road:
• Discuss the route, noting "watch-outs" (busy intersections, four-way stops, etc.).
• Lower the vanity mirror on the passenger side so you can use it as your rearview mirror.
• Take a deep breath and remind yourself to be calm and patient. Remember— not all parents are cut out to be driving teachers. If you're not, ask your spouse or an adult you trust to take on the job.

Behind the wheel:
• Give clear directions well before any maneuver.
• Use a gentle tone of voice.
• Encourage your teen to talk about what they see and what they plan to do.
• Don't distract them by talking too much.
• Watch for signs of stress or anxiety (white knuckles, tense arms, etc.).
• Be generous with your praise.
• If your teen makes a mistake, ask them to pull off the road when safe, and discuss what went wrong.

Practice what you preach. If you speed, roll through stop signs, make rude gestures at other drivers or chat on your cell phone while driving, your teen is likely to do the same.

When you arrive safely back at home, here are some suggested topics to discuss together:
• Evaluate the driving experience together.
• Give your teen a chance to point out their mistakes.
• Praise your teen for what they did well.
• Ask your teen what they could have done differently.

Don't be afraid to be parental. You're still the authority figure they most admire. They won't ever say so, but it's what teens want and what they need— a parent, not a friend. Don't balk at enforcing the guidelines. A consequence is not a consequence unless you enforce it. Taking away your teen's driving privileges for a week or a month may not be convenient for you, but it might just save their life.

Courtesy of Allstate Insurance. Find more tools and resources at www.allstateteendriver.com.