Tag: distracted driving
As a driver, you know there are a ton of distractions that can take your eyes and mind away from the road. Your teen may be aware of these distractions, but may not know how serious they can affect their driving.
Drivers under 20 are at the highest risk of distracted driving accidents, largely thanks to phones. Cell phone users are 5.36 times more likely to get into an accident. In 2017, 100,687 crashes happened on Texas roads due to distracted driving.
One of the most important conversations you can have with your teen is about safe driving. Here are a few ways to positively encourage them to do so.
1. Lead by example
Kids learn behavior from their role models. They aren’t likely to stay off their phone behind the wheel if they see you on your phone behind the wheel. The earlier you can set an example, the better. If your teen has often seen you on your phone while driving already, tell them that you want to practice safer driving with them.
You can have them encourage you to stay off your phone or engage in other distracting behaviors while you drive, as you’ll do the same for them.
2. Give them the tools to succeed
There are several apps that can help reduce your teen’s distractions. If your teen uses their phone for music or Bluetooth calling, they probably won’t want to put it away completely. Instead, help them set up an app to lock certain features or allow hands-free control.
Keeping your teen’s phone on a mount also helps them keep their eyes close to the road and minimizes the time their hands are off the wheel should they use it.
This isn’t the perfect solution, but especially as we are increasingly depending on constant-communication, your teen may be less inclined to turn off and stow their phone. But this way, you can allow them to use it in a much safer manner.
3. Peer influence
Peer influence also plays a part in distracted driving. Others in the car can be a positive or negative influence on the driver. A 2015 AT&T study showed that 85% of participants would download an app to block their phone notifications if one of their “top 5” closest communicators asked them to. Many drivers are receptive to those they care about – if only those people asked them to change their behavior.
Talk to your teen and their friends about how they engage with one another. Encourage them to support one another to make safe driving habits. It’s also important to talk to them about being aware of their behavior in the car to support safe driving.
4. Positive reinforcement
New drivers hear a lot of negative comments concerning what they’re doing wrong. While this is often vital, they also need to hear positive reinforcement of their safe driving skills.
Both on and off the road, don’t be afraid to compliment your teen on something they did well. It could be the way they maintained the speed limit. Or how they told their friend to text them when they get home safely.
Even if they don’t seem receptive, small encouragements can help them see safe driving as an asset instead of an annoyance.
Some safe driving apps, like San Antonio-based Safe 2 Save, also reward you for staying off your phone, which also positively reinforces attentive driving. You can encourage them to earn rewards at local businesses, to give your teen incentive to stay off their phone.
You can even do it as a family and compete to see who can get the most safe-driving rewards. Again, your teen will have their good habits positively reinforced.
5. Practice practice practice
This is obvious, but for your teen to get better at driving, they need to spend more time on the road. Offer to let them drive if it’s just the two of you, and take them out to practice in heavier traffic. Often, teens don’t encounter difficult driving situations until they’re on their own. Having them encounter difficult driving situations with you there can help them in the long run.
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Let’s be honest. Central Texas’ worst drawback is the traffic. Whether you’re driving into San Antonio, Austin, or just trying to get through town in San Marcos, congestion is abound. That’s why it’s smart to have a plan to kick the stress for your mid-week traffic jam.
Not only will calming down help you cope with a frustrating traffic situation, but people who are stressed or angry tend to exhibit reckless driving habits. This is dangerous for you and the cars around you.
Here are a few ways you can de-stress behind the wheel and get some enjoyment out of an otherwise stressful commute.
1. Listen to a podcast or audiobook
Preferably, your listening material shouldn’t be high-energy or aggressive, as we can often channel into our behavior. Instead, listen to something that takes your mind (partly) off the traffic around you. Listening to engaging audio could help your mind stay alert while distancing yourself from the stress at hand.
2. Turn your phone off
Using a phone while driving is illegal in some places, but ultimately your phone is a major stress machine. If you’re driving and hear several alerts going off, you’ll likely feel an urgency to check it. Turning it off doesn’t give you the option to feel this way.
3. Do some yoga
Yes, you read that right. Practice some yoga as you drive. Some stretches are best done when the car is fully stopped, while some, like practicing your breathing, can be done while driving. Start by sitting up straight. Roll your neck and stretch your muscles gently, and slowly. Focus on your body and you’ll soon feel calmer.
4. Let it go
Sometimes we let ourselves get carried away. Who hasn’t let a bit of road rage fester while you’re driving? But the key to staying calm isn’t not to feel that way. It’s to choose to let those feelings subside. Anger is a natural reaction when someone cuts you off, but to reject that feeling will help you stay calm and focused. Remember that you have no control over the actions of other drivers. The best you can do is observe and react as safely as you can.
5. Take a break
If the traffic is making you feel anxious or too stressed, you can always pull over if you need to. Try stopping at a coffee shop or convenience store for a snack and a proper stretch. You might even hang around for a bit while traffic subsides.
No parent wants their teen to have an accident and wind up searching for an auto body shop. Driving for the first time can come with mixed emotions for any teen. They can be extremely excited, nervous, or overwhelmed. Parents can also feel similar emotions as they teach a teen safe driving.
There are a few ways to demonstrate good driver responsibility to your teen.
Drive by example
AAA recently surveyed driving instructors. According to the survey, parents today do not prepare their teen drivers as well as parents did a decade ago. The instructors reported parents setting bad examples through their own driving behaviors. Research shows that young drivers will mimic the driving of parents and other family members.
Remember when your child gets closer to learning how to drive to be aware of how you operate a vehicle. Re-familiarize yourself with traffic and safety rules. Reduce behaviors you wouldn’t want your teen driver to do. This includes reducing distractions like cell phone use and obeying the speed limit.
Having a soon-to-be driver in your car can help you get back in the practice of responsible driving.
Practice, practice, practice
As the saying goes, “Practice makes perfect.” The more experience that your teen can get behind the wheel will help your new driver respond better to a potential accident. It is better to expose them to different driving situations with you in the car next to them so they can learn from you can put your guidance into practice in the future.
Young drivers often do not get enough practice in inclimate weather, night driving, and heavy traffic – situations where they’re most likely to get into a crash.
Encouragement is important
Every parent knows that praise is helpful when their teen is doing the right thing, especially when they are driving safely behind the wheel. Positive reinforcement of good driving can be encouraging and help your teen build driving confidence.
But encouragement in other ways is also important. Have discussions with your teen to let him or her know it is a good thing to speak up if they don’t feel safe driving or to also speak up with their peers about unsafe driving. Sometimes discussing what to do or say in social situations can help your teen set boundaries (and a good example!) with other young drivers.
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