Parents are Key Role Models for Teenage Drivers

posted on 28 Jul 2015 04:29 by hacks243
Support Graduated Driver Licensing to Save LivesParents have an important role to play as the child's first driver education teacher. Mom and Dad can take advantage of child's play and teach valuable driving skills and social behaviors.

A child longs to drive a car years before he (or she) reaches adolescence. A toddler is thrilled to have a play steering wheel attached to his car seat. Toy cars have been around for decades and are built to suit almost any age group. Model cars continue to be a popular item at Christmas, birthdays, and most any other time of year. Remote control cars, auto racing sets, and auto video games captivate both children and adults.

Parents are Driver's Ed Teachers

Imagine getting into a car with a driver education instructor behind the wheel. He works on eating a burger and fries while trying to navigate through traffic on a busy highway. Or, visualize the same instructor chatting away on a cell phone while driving on the interstate. Suppose the "instructor" doesn't want to wear a safety belt. What is a teen who is learning to drive supposed to think? Would a younger child notice such careless driving behaviors?

From the moment a small child is able to comprehend what is going on around him, a parent's driving skills and social habits come under close observation. What do young children see and hear when a parent drives? The following are bad examples that parents may set for their teens when driving:

Eating while trying to maintain control of the vehicleLighting up a cigarette and smokingText messaging or talking on a cell phoneApplying makeup, or groomingDriving without a seat beltTrying to read a map and drive at the same timeAttempting to control arguing children in the back seatAttempting to control a petDrinking alcoholImpatience, anxiety, or some other emotionA display of mild or moderate road rageOlder Children Learn the Finer Points of Social Skills When Parents Drive

An older child picks up all sorts of habits from a parent driver and may even call attention to careless or reckless mistakes. It makes no difference if the child is in the front seat or sitting on the bench seat in the rear of a van; there are driver behaviors that come across loud and clear.

Children learn from other sources in the environment, as well. Television commercials and car magazines imply that fast cars and speed are what driving is all about. Kids learn early that a person's success may be judged by the style of vehicle he drives.

A Teenager's Attitude Toward Driving Developed Long Ago

By the time a teenager gets his learner's permit his attitude toward driving is already formed. For the past sixteen years or so, the teen's personality and attitude have been heavily influenced by those who raised him. His personality most likely will dictate the type of driver he or she will become. Can enrolling in a driver education program curb an overconfident or bullying attitude that results in aggressive driving behavior?

The Web site Partners for Safe Teen Driving offers insight on the page, "FAQ about Teen Driver Safety" (no author stated, 2004), and comments on a question regarding the effectiveness of driver education on teen behavior and attitude: "... according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), high school driver education programs appear to have little effect on changing teen drivers' attitudes ..." And, "To effectively change attitudes and reduce risky behavior among teen drivers, education needs to be combined with parent and community involvement and ongoing behind-the-wheel supervision."

Parents begin to influence young drivers from the moment a child begins to comprehend his or her surroundings. Children learn behaviors and develop attitudes based on parental feedback and guidance. Don't wait until a child gets his learner's permit to start working on attitude and behavior skills. Parents should set an active strong example each and every time they get behind the wheel of a car.