Even if you have full faith in your child’s driving skills, it’s worth talking to them about defensive driving and why it’s important. Young and first-time drivers are at particularly high risk when it comes to high impact crashes – with some leading to severe or fatal injuries. One of the biggest causes of these crashes is a distraction.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 3,000 people were killed in car accidents in 2019 where the at-fault driver was distracted. And, in 2017, 3,255 teens (aged 15-19) were involved in a crash that was fatal. For any parent, these statistics are terrifying, which is why understanding the basics of defensive driving and equipping your kids with the same skills is the first step to keeping them safe on the roads.
What is defensive driving?
Defensive driving is all about anticipating problems, looking out for hazards, and thinking about how to deal with them well in advance. Essentially, it’s about being on the defense while you’re driving.
You should be avoiding situations that could lead to a crash and spotting hazards wherever you go. Not everyone will be doing the same, meaning their distractions could easily lead to an accident if you’re not prepared.If your teen does end up in an accident – whether it is their fault or not – head to the scene, gather evidence and contact a personal injury lawyer like Brown and Crouppen Ofallon MO. If your teenager can learn defensive driving and uses this daily, seeking compensation when they are in an accident that wasn’t their fault is easier.
When driving in a local neighborhood, a defensive driver would do this:
- Look out for cars backing out of the driveway
- Keep an eye on any kids playing near the street that could suddenly run into the road
- Scan the intersection while at the traffic lights
- Avoid using their phones, car touchscreen, or even adjusting the radio
A defensive driver will essentially see the worst-case scenarios at all times. Unfortunately, not everyone will be a safe and conscious driver, meaning you are the only person that can keep you safe. Defensive drivers will be able to adapt if they notice another driver doing something problematic and will be able to avoid dangerous situations.
How to teach your kids about defensive driving
The first step in teaching your kids is to teach yourself. While you might’ve read your state’s driver guide when you were learning, how long has it been since you brushed up your knowledge on the rules of the road? It’s worth having a read to ensure you know, and are practicing, all the right driving habits before trying to speak to your kids about doing the same.
As getting your license is a hugely exciting thing for a teen, it’s likely that they’ll want to show off to their friends by driving as much as possible. But driving with friends can be a sure way to get distracted from the road. Have an honest conversation with your child about getting distracted behind the wheel – you could even take it a step further and ensure their friends understand the dangers, so they can actively avoid distracting the driver on the road.
If you’re not sure about teaching them the skills needed yourself, book them onto a defensive driving course for peace of mind. You might even want to take it yourself! Completing additional driving courses can often get you insurance discounts, too.
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