Learning doesn’t stop when your teen has received their license. It’s important to continue teaching and building upon the skills they have learned. As you continue the supervision process, think about these three areas of focus:
- Spend as much time as possible driving with your teen.
- Drive in a wide variety of conditions (weather, time of day, different traffic volumes, etc.).
- Focus on “higher level” learning: scanning ahead, recognizing hazards, and learning to anticipate the behavior of other drivers.
Now that your teen has become proficient in the basic operational skills of driving, it is essential that they be exposed to a wide variety of driving circumstances and conditions. Make a point of driving with them in situations them that they have not yet experienced, and do it for all types of roads — quiet neighborhood streets, multi-lane roads, and highways. Drive with them at different times of the day, in poor weather, and with varying levels of traffic. It’s much better that they experience these conditions with you, rather than alone or with other teens.
Much of what has been discussed to this point has related specifically to the basic skills your teen will need to be a safe driver. Now, your goal is to ensure your teen is thinking intelligently and making the right decisions as a driver. Sometimes after teens become proficient with the basic skills, parents/guardians will often “step back,” becoming less involved in their teen’s supervision. But there’s still a lot to learn; their teen’s education is not complete.
Be clear with your teen that the training process is ongoing and that you will continue to provide input into their development so that you both stay in the learning/teaching mode.
Even the best new drivers are likely to make mistakes. These mistakes are great teachable moments for “higher order” instructions. So instead of saying, “Stop sooner,” advise your teen to try to focus on looking ahead and anticipating events, with an emphasis on good judgment, good decision making, and hazard perception. The shift from a basic comment to a more advanced focus is perhaps the most essential element of educating your teen at this point in the learning process.
As your teen drives, talk to them about specific hazard areas, possible areas of conflict, and blind spots where trouble may hide. Teens tend to be less skilled at anticipating these trouble areas than experienced drivers. A good exercise is to have your teen describe the blind spots and possible areas of conflict they see. It will let you know that they are thinking, anticipating, and driving intelligently.
New Vehicle Technology
There is an ever-increasing amount of safety technology in today’s cars. Features like automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, and forward collision warnings keep us all safer, but only if they’re used correctly. It’s important to understand how these advanced driver assistance features work, including their limitations. A key point is to remember these are driver “assistance” features and not driver “replacement” features.
The easiest way to ensure you’re using everything right is to carefully review your car’s manual. Read about any features that are new to you and make sure you know how they work. If you still have questions, then reach out to the dealership so they can explain. Once you understand the technology, share that information with your teen driver so they understand it, too.
Check out this website for additional information: https://mycardoeswhat.org/safety-features/
Keep on coachin’
Even after your teen is licensed, use your time driving with them to instill habits of good judgment, accurate hazard anticipation, and smart decision-making. Remember that crash rates are highest in the first months of licensure. Your role is still vital even after your teen receives his or her license!