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Guest Blog: The Big Scare…Teen Driving!

October 18, 2011

We’re happy to welcome Meg Kramer, Founder of the StreetSafe Driving Academy to the LIES That Limit and Spirit of Purpose family.  Here she shares tips on helping parents address the LIES that surround teens and their driving habits. Even teens who are good in other aspects of their lives need special attention and guidance behind the wheel.

I often wonder why parents believe that their child won’t get into a car accident if they are honor students, phenomenal athletes, or student leaders. Truth be told, high school status has no correlation to how safe a driver a teen will be during their high school years and beyond. Car accidents are by far the number one killer of teens nationwide, yet most parents have a passive mindset about driver training.

Parents often put more time, attention and money into training their teens for sports than they put into helping them develop critical driving skills that could save their lives. Parents need help and our teens deserve better! It’s time for a fundamental shift in the way we approach driver training for teens.

This week is National Teen Driving Safety Week. It’s an opportunity to educate parents and encourage them to have an open dialogue about driver safety and driving distractions (yes this includes texting) with their teens.

When I think of the recent tragic fatal accident in NJ with the football players, I am even more inspired to make a change in the way we as a community approach teen driver training. We must offer our teens a game plan to help them prepare for a lifetime of safe driving. Like all sports, it takes practice, comprehensive training, top-notch equipment and the right attitude to become proficient at any skill.

Here are some steps you can take with your teen to help keep them safe on the road.

Key Tips for Teen Driving:

  • Give your teen more experience behind the wheel before letting them drive independently
    • Provide 100 hours of experience
    • Expose your teen to a wide variety of settings and conditions
    • Get professional instruction for more than just the 6 hours required to gain a learner’s permit. Using a professional driver training company is less stressful for parents and teens, and depending on the instructor, your teen may learn better from a third party rather than a parent.
  • Sign a parent/teen contract. Establish rules and consequences for the privilege of driving. Studies show that parents and teens that do this significantly reduce likelihood of accident.
  • Be a role model. Clean up your own driving habits including always using seat belts, not using cell phones, eating, drinking or engaging in any other form of distraction while driving.
  • Remember that a teen is still a novice driver even after gaining a probationary license. Once on a probationary license, let your teen drive independently in short time and distance increments then build up to longer trips.
  • Continue to ride with your teen as much as possible even after getting a probationary license. They will still need guidance.
  • Don’t allow your teen to drive without adequate sleep.
  • Give your teen some responsibility related to the use and care of a car. Studies show that families that do this reduce likelihood of accidents.
  • Choose the safest car possible for your teen.
  • See the big picture. Have a serious attitude about the responsibility and risks of driving and convey that to your teen every time you or your teen get behind the wheel.

Think of driver training as you would sports training for your teen. Becoming a safe driver requires time, dedication, a serious attitude and assistance from professionals. The consequences for how well-prepared teens are to face today’s challenging driving environment can have life-long consequences.

About StreetSafe Driving Academy™

Founded by an experienced driving instructor and a team of local off-duty police officers, StreetSafe Driving Academy is a state-of-the-art, comprehensive driver training program that ensures teens have the skills they need to survive on the road and become lifelong safe drivers. Off-duty local police officers coach students in top safety-rated Subarus. In addition to Haddonfield, NJ and the Southern Jersey Shore, StreetSafe offers programs in Bryn Mawr and Blue Bell, PA.

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