Keys to Defensive Driving for Teens

excited male teen driver at the wheel of a car

Learning to drive is one of the most exciting times in a teen’s life. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most nerve-racking for parents. It’s natural to worry about their safety, but did you know that teaching them defensive driving tactics can help prevent an accident?

While you can’t control the actions of other drivers on the road, teaching your teen to drive defensively helps them learn to anticipate and avoid potentially hazardous situations. If that sounds like the peace of mind you’re looking for, then here are the key points to teach your new driver. 

Stay Focused

Distracted driving causes roughly 391,000 injuries each year. That includes everything from texting to eating and talking on the phone. While these actions are tempting, it’s essential that your teen learns to treat driving as a thinking task.

There’s a lot that your teen needs to be aware of at any point in time behind the wheel. Instead of daydreaming or sightseeing, teach them to remain aware of the following:

  • Road conditions
  • Speed
  • Position in traffic
  • Traffic signs
  • Signals on their car and others
  • Markings on the road
  • Cars and objects around them
  • Cars and objects in their mirrors

Stay Alert

In order to stay focused, your teen needs to stay alert if they want to avoid motor vehicle accidents. That means not driving while they’re sleepy or under the influence. These conditions slow down their reaction time, which could lead them to brake too late in a critical moment. 

The Three Second Rule

Another defensive driving tactic is simply keeping your distance. The three second rule allows you to maintain a safe amount space between your car and the one in front of you, giving you plenty of time to brake when necessary. 

You can teach your teen this trick by using objects on the side of the road. If the vehicle in front of them passes a road sign, then it should take three seconds before your teen’s vehicle passes the same sign. It also helps to extend this range by an extra second when driving at night. 

The Escape Route

When driving, teach your teen to keep their car in a position where they have the best chance of being seen by other drivers. While this cuts down on accidents, there are still times when it’s tough to avoid a collision. That’s where the escape route comes into play.

As they drive, your teen should keep an eye out for where they can escape a collision. That could be the shoulder on a highway, another lane, or even a ditch if need be. Regardless of where the escape route leads, it’s essential that they know where they can move to get out of the way. 

Separating Risks

In some cases, your teen might face multiple risks at once. The best way to manage them all is to handle one at a time. If you can deal with a downpour first, then begin to focus on the driver who is going to need a DUI attorney in a few minutes. It isn’t easy, but it helps to maintain focus.