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Teenage Drivers — Teach Your Children Well

Webster's defines attitude as "a manner that shows one's disposition," and then defines disposition as "one's nature or temperament." A proper attitude by both the parent (or guardian) and the teen driver will benefit a teen driver during the "Critical 1st phase of driving" -- the first five years. Let's look at desirable attitudes and how to achieve them.

As the parent, you may be pondering: How will I train my teen driver? Where will I train my teen driver? Do I have the proper skills to train my teen? Driver's Education training is only a small percent of what your teen actually needs, therefore it is recommended that you secure a professional driver trainer for further improvement and practice of your teen's driving skills or obtain a "parent training packet" which some states are providing for parents and guardians. An attitude acknowledging the need for professional help -- either by hiring a professional trainer or acquiring a "parent training package" and applying its principles yourself -- will put a positive spin on driver training for your teen.

Another positive attitude you can exhibit is patience. Patience will be much appreciated by your teen during the initial training sessions. Not being patient during your driving sessions with your teen can stress out your teen and potentially cause an accident. Try putting yourself in your teen's shoes, and have a very patient attitude.

Your own positive attitude with your teen will give a sense of accomplishment, along with the knowledge that they will need to continue to practice proper driving habits at all times.

A most important attitude to convey to your teens is that they are vulnerable! This alone can be the difference between teens who end up as fatal or injury statistics every year and those who are successful drivers. Each year approximately 5,500 to 6,000 teens are killed due to vehicle accidents. Improper attitudes played a large part in these deaths. Teenagers believe they are invulnerable -- nothing bad can happen to them. It is important to dispel this myth.

Another attitude a teenager cannot afford to display is one of indifference. "Yeah, yeah Dad, I know." This reflects an attitude of not wanting to listen or thinking "I already have this down." Your teenager is saying, "I'm already a great driver," when in fact, this is the most vulnerable stage. Parents should encourage their teens to display an attitude to the trainer of accepting training and asking questions to gather as much knowledge as possible.

As a parent, it is important to monitor your teen's driving. Take drives during different situations. A rainy day would be an excellent time to take your teen driving and focus on reduction in speed according to the weather conditions and increasing following distance during the inclement weather. Take your teen for some night driving situations, again focusing on speed reduction due to loss of visibility.

An important responsibility for parents is to set a good example when you drive. It will be difficult for your teen to follow instructions when you are driving with one hand, constantly tailgating, or failing to signal when changing lanes or turning. This is not setting a good example. To properly teach your child, you must display proper fundamental driving habits at all times.

As a teen driver you must be responsible to your parents, your community, and yourself. Your parents or guardians, in most cases, are paying hard-earned money to pay for your insurance for you to have the privilege of driving. Yes, driving is a privilege and it can be lost in one split second. Imagine driving at a high rate of speed, losing control, hitting a pedestrian, flipping your car over, killing one of your friends and ending up paralyzed for life! This happens many, many times every day. You will not be impacted until it involves you! The #1 accident of the teen driver is losing control which is caused in most cases simply by driving too fast! Driving too fast is not being responsible! Remember to be a responsible driver at all times! Drive responsibly and drive safely!

If you would like a professional training session with your teen, your family, your religious or employee group, contact DIA at (512) 918-0676, or (512) 918-9506, or write to DIA, P.O. Box 80203, Austin, TX 78706-0203.

All DIA articles are intended as increased professional knowledge for improving perception of driving and driving skills. This information will not eliminate any accident on the part of anyone who fails to drive according to these principles. Drive courteously and responsibly!

Copyright DIA (Driving Institute of America), December, 1997