How to make a teen become a responsible driver?


Teen driver.

Parents need to recognize this fact, and seriously consider:

Is my teeneger really ready for a driver’s license?

Otherwise, are they not at least partially responsible when their youngsters become involved in traffic accidents that cause deaths and injuries?

‘But what am I to do?’ you may ask. ‘Should I refuse my child a driver’s license?’

That is a decision you will have to make, but you can also make them become more responsible drivers.


Parental responsibility



Many think it is the best answer, and recommend that laws be passed forbidding young people from driving.

But others believe there are better answers, much fairer to youths.

They argue that raising the driving age will not lessen the number of beginners on the road who lack driving experience.

And it is this lack of experience that is considered a major cause of auto accidents, regardless of the age at which one starts learning to drive.

So perhaps it is your decision to allow your child to learn to drive while he is quite young.

Do not conclude, however, that you have fulfilled your responsibility by simply having him take the driver’s education course at driving school.

These are generally inadequate.

In fact, studies show a higher accident rate even among driving school-trained teenagers.

Why do driving school programs fail?

Basically, it is felt, because they do not give the young driver practical experience.

Only a little time is spent actually driving, and this at slow speeds on lightly traveled streets.

Few, if any, emergency situations are faced. “Because of this,” a spokesman for a large auto insurer explained, “young drivers are not ready to face many emergency situations such as blowouts and skids.

Too often the youthful driver’s first experience with an emergency situation is the real thing, and too often he will never get a second chance.”

For this reason Dr. Amos E. Neyhart,  who has set up a driving course says :

 At least 12 hours should be spent by each student behind the wheel. The student driver must be given simulation experience in skidding, brake failure, tire blowouts, running off the road, and so on. We’ve been teaching manipulative skills but not enough accident-prevention skills.”

So, as a parent, you should see that your teenager receives adequate driving experience.

Let him practice while you are with him.

Give him practical experience at turnpike speeds.

Also, it is wise to teach him to handle skids, estimated to be a major contributing factor in one of every four fatal auto accidents.

Perhaps you can find a large, unoccupied, iced-over parking lot and obtain permission to use it to practice skidding and counter-steering.

Reading about skid control will never educate as well as will experiencing the real thing.

Nor does your responsibility end with simply seeing that your youngster can expertly handle a car, even in emergency situations.

Inculcating a proper mental attitude is equally important, if not even more so.


Instilling a sober, mature attitude



Your youngster may be a teenager, but when he is behind the wheel of a car it is essential that he be a stable person who values life and property.

It is your responsibility to see that he is.

Endeavor to develop in him courtesy, respect for law, carefulness and consideration for the rights of others.

A vital way of doing so is by providing a good example in the way you drive.

Emphasizing the importance of this, Dr. Bruno Bettelheim, a noted psychoanalyst, said:

Even if a parent breaks a traffic law only occasionally, it may be enough to destroy a child’s belief that he should obey all rules at all times. An occasional speeding violation by a parent, or impatient cheating at the stoplight, makes a youngster imagine that to be ‘grown up’ means one can break the law and get away with it.”

It is vital, too, to teach your youngster to think while he drives, always to be analyzing the traffic situation.

One parent makes a kind of game out of this, explaining:

My son . . . sits beside me in the front seat of the car, looks ahead, and picks out possible dangers. For example, there is a line of parked cars ahead with a driver seated at the wheel of one car. What should the driver of our car do if the other driver pulls out suddenly or opens his car door on the wrong side? There’s a hidden driveway where a car may come out unexpectedly. How do we prepare to meet this emergency? Up ahead is a blind curve. How do we proceed?”

Some may think that young people have such quick reflexes that they can, at the last moment, take accident-preventing action.

But the fact is, being able to get one’s foot to the brake a fraction of a second faster than the next person is much less important in avoiding accidents than driving carefully enough so that such activity is unnecessary.

Yet another way to impress upon your youngster the importance of safe driving is to allow him to see and hear firsthand what happens to traffic violators.

If you get in touch with the local court, the judge may be glad to have you come down to listen.

He may even arrange to hear a series of cases that will be especially instructive and impressive for teenagers.

Also effective is to have youths visit the emergency ward of a hospital and watch traffic-accident cases as they are brought in.

This can certainly make a lasting impression that emphasizes the importance of safe driving!

By inquiring and explaining the reason for it, you may receive permission to visit such an emergency ward.

It is not an exaggeration to say that the future of your youngster is dependent, to a surprising degree, upon your proper supervision of his use of the car.

You simply cannot close your eyes to the danger when he is behind the wheel.

It is real!

So do all you can to make your youngster a safe driver.

His life, and that of others, may depend on it.