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How to Help Your Teen Become a Defensive Driver

Getting a driver's license is a major milestone for any teenager that comes with lots of new freedoms and responsibilities. As exciting as it is for teens to get behind the wheel, it can also be nerve-wracking for parents.

To help keep your child safe, here's how you can teach them to become a defensive driver.

Practice the Right Way

Practice is critical for any new driver … in fact, many states even require that permit holders log a minimum number of practice hours before they can apply for their license. While practicing with your child, encourage them to become a defensive driver.

Teach them to drive at or under the speed limit, to leave plenty of room behind the car ahead of them and to make sure that they have enough time to execute turns ahead of oncoming traffic. These may seem like common sense practices for experienced drivers, but remember, your child is new to this.

Also, be sure to practice with them in a variety of weather and traffic conditions, as well as at night.

At the same time, make sure you're setting a good example and acting as a defensive driver when you're the one in the driver's seat. Your teen is likely to mimic your behavior behind the wheel.

Enroll Your Teen in Driver's Ed

Whether or not it's required by your state, it's a good idea to enroll your child in an accredited driver's education program that teaches defensive driving techniques. Schools like DriversEd.com understand that you can't control the behavior of other motorists, but you can learn how to protect yourself from unsafe drivers and hazardous weather conditions.

They'll help reinforce the defensive driving techniques you're working on with your child during your behind-the-wheel practice sessions.

Explain the Dangers of Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is a leading cause of car accidents in the United States, especially among teen drivers. Make sure your child understands that checking their phone or messing with the music can take their attention away from the road, making them more susceptible to accidents with other drivers.

The most important part of being a defensive driver is being aware of what's going on around you, which is impossible if your focus is elsewhere.

Teach Your Child about their Vehicle

You may wish that your teen could limit their driving to empty roads and sunny days, but it's important that you prepare them for less than ideal conditions. Make sure they know how to handle rain or snow, depending on where you live.

It's also a good idea to teach them how to add air to their tires and do other simple maintenance so that they won't be intimidated to take care of it themselves when the time comes.

Most frightening occurrences are rare. Fortunately, for example, you're unlikely to encounter a blowout on the highway or a flash flood during your practice sessions, but it's important your child knows how to prepare for whatever may happen to them on the road. If you need a refresher yourself on how to handle these types of situations, you'll likely be able to find related information in your state's driver handbook.


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