Beyond the Driver’s Test: Road Hazards and Your Teen
Driver’s education is designed to provide your teen with the knowledge of state driving laws and the basic skills for operating a vehicle. The license bureau only checks if your teen knows how to turn and use signals, obey traffic signs, park, and use safety equipment. They are more concerned with the written test to see if laws and other regulations are understood.
The driver’s education course, as well as the licensing office, is not concerned however, if your teen can operate a car in rain, fog, ice or snow. They do not question them on what to do when the car is sliding, how to react to a tire blow-out, or how to react if something darts in front of the car.
These road hazards, however, are all a part of driving and need to be addressed. This is where parents must step in and prepare their teens for the unexpected.
Sadly, teens have a very high accident rate, especially during their first year on the road. Parents can help with this with the following techniques:
• Drive with your teen under as many circumstances as possible. It is almost automatic for a parent to take over the wheel when the weather condition changes or traffic becomes heavy. It is a parent’s way of protecting their teen. It would be more beneficial, however, to allow your teen to experience these driving conditions while you are there in the car and able to provide them with help and support.
• Limit night driving to only be allowed when you are in the car for at least the first year. This gives you teen a full year to become accustomed to driving. Many accidents occur at night for teens because they are not yet accustomed to operating a car.
• Enforce safety rules. Make sure your teen wears a safety belt, refrains from phone use, and understands the dangers of distracted driving. Set standards for how many teens can be in the car at once, and always review the dangers of intoxicated driving.
• Teach car maintenance. Make sure that your teen knows how to use the windshield wipers and how to get the washer fluid to work. Show them where to refill the washer fluid if necessary. Many accidents occur from impaired vision. Make sure your teen understands simple maintenance, and tell them what they should do if there is a mechanical problem. A teen panicking about a maintenance issue is going to try to get the car home, regardless of safety issues.
In one suburb of Dallas, Texas called the Grapevine, an accident involving teens took an hour to remove a 17-year-old from the car. The accident was caused by speeding, slick roads, and an inexperience driver who did not know how to handle the road conditions.
The blog on the website of one Dallas accident attorney also writes about a 16-year-old Dallas teen who killed four people. Sadly, these are not isolated examples of a teen getting into an accident due to poor decisions and inexperience.
Many of these could have been prevented if the teen had more skill behind the wheel during different road conditions. Since drivers education is not meant to address these issues, parents must step up and make an effort to teach their teens how to stay safe on the road.
Writer Melanie Fleury is well aware of the poor decisions teen drivers can make as she had friends in high school involved in fatal accidents. According to one Dallas accident attorney, ”teens are far more inclined to drive over the speed limit, which leads to a lot of accidents that could have been avoided.”
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