Getting a driver’s license is often considered a huge symbol of freedom for virtually every teenager.
However, this new-found freedom may come at a deadly price, as car crashes are the number one cause of teenage death. In fact, 50% of these fatal crashes have been proven to involve alcohol, making them entirely preventable. These shocking figures clearly demonstrate the importance of maturity and responsible behaviour among new teenage drivers, as this will significantly reduce their risk of being in an accident.
So if your teenage child is desperate to start driving lessons but you’re unsure if they’re ready to take on such a responsibility, here are a couple of quick questions to ask yourself.
How well do they obey basic rules?
Perhaps the most obvious indicator of whether your child is mature enough to handle the roads is how obedient they are. If they’re willing to adhere to the rules of others, this is a positive indicator that they’ll adhere to the vital rules of the road.
If you’re uncertain about how they’ll react to these rules behind the wheel, try taking them out safely in your own car first to get an idea of their behaviour.
Obviously choose a secluded, quiet open space (an empty parking lot is a great option), and see how they respond to your rules. This will be especially noticeable if you own a big, family-oriented car like the spacious Dodge Durango, because this is the total opposite of the small car your child is likely expecting to learn in.
Getting to see how they navigate a large car alongside the rules they’re being given will provide an insight into how they’re likely to behave in a real driving situation, giving you peace of mind if it goes well.
How often do they use their phone?
These days it’s impossible to find a teenager without a smartphone in their hand. But with driver distraction causing up to an astonishing 80% of all road accidents, you can be forgiven for worrying about the potential damage a phone may have on their driving.
If you can rarely get your teenager to put their phone down for more than a couple of minutes, perhaps driving isn’t the best idea for them.
What are their friends like?
Similarly to phones, disruptive friends are equally likely to distract your teenager from driving safely if they’re also in the car. Whilst it’s almost impossible to prevent your teenager from driving with friends if they do gain their license, taking a look at the behaviour of your teen’s friends will likely predict the type of distractions they could potentially face when behind the wheel.
As a parent, it’s natural for you to worry about your child’s first time behind the wheel. But if at any point you feel they’re not showing the maturity levels appropriate for safe driving, there’s no harm in delaying their learning. After all, they’ll likely appreciate your concern in the long-run if it means safety from accidents!
Faith O’Brien is a tech-connected Mommy who writes about parenting, technology and apps and everyday family life in her articles. These appear around the web usually on mommy blogs.