Talking to Your Teen Driver About Injuries: What They Should Know

Article contributed by Amanda G.

Sometimes it seems that you almost need a graduate degree in psychology to be a good parent.

Raising a child to grow up to be a happy, productive, prosperous, and benevolent person is difficult enough, but raising one in a modern world teeming with hidden social dangers raises the ante even higher.

Theoretically, the formal operational stage after 11 years old should be the easiest. After all, the formative years of developing logic are now behind you. Now it’s only a matter of refining what they know rather than introducing them to the idea of thinking things through.

The reason this stage of parenting is difficult has less to do with your child and more to do with how your child navigates society.

Yes, your child is now able to think about things in a more logical way, but society has set some booby traps.

The first challenge is introducing your child to the war against drug and alcohol that they need to be briefed about when in school. While they may agree in principle, you have to talk about the dark side of human nature to convince them that substance abuse is a path of self-destruction. Although it’s positioned by other kids as the path to incredible fun, you have to convince them otherwise.

Next, you might think the discovery of hormones and the opposite sex as an amorous possibility as challenging, but talking about the birds and the bees is simple compared to talking to them about car safety.

Yes, the car. It’s seductive in many ways. Speed. Glamour. Power. Instant prestige. However, unless you talk to your teen in the presence of an injury attorney who can cite all sorts of distressing injury statistics to scare them into sensible driving, it’s hard to communicate all the things that can go wrong when it comes to driving a car.

10 Talking Points

If you are at the stage where you need to talk about car safety with your inattentive teen, here are 10 talking points to help you out.

  1. A driver’s license is just the beginning of a world of choices and freedom. The fatality rate for 15 to 20 year olds is an astonishing 40%. The difference between being a careless driver and a careful driver is literally the difference between life and death.
  2. Although they have passed their driving test, you may still need to drive with them to offer them passenger side tips.
  3. They can’t go on road trips right away because 5 mile trips may be necessary first until they can build up their confidence.
  4. Seat belts and airbags are included in cars for a reason.
  5. A good car is not a “hot” car. A good car is one that is easy to drive, steers well, and has roadworthy tires.
  6. A bad temper is not a good idea when driving, even though the evening news makes road rage seems like an exciting thing to try out. The best drivers are those who can keep a check on their temper and who show courtesy to other drivers who have the right of way.
  7. While your teen may have got away by violating many house rules, they can’t take the same liberties with car driving rules. If your child can’t meet your realistic goals and expectations, then they will have to face the consequences of forfeiting their car keys.
  8. Walk your teen through various car breakdown scenarios, as well as accident scenarios, and help them understand exactly what to do in the event of a breakdown or an accident.
  9. It’s not enough to be able to memorize the DMV driver’s guide and be able to repeat back the rules of the road upon questioning. Your teen must also be prepared to obey them and not be offended when you gently point them out and ask that they be corrected.
  10. Finally, set a good example yourself.

Here are some of the things you can’t do anymore:

  • You can’t beat out the yellow lights or run the red lights.
  • You can’t text and drive even if you have nothing but a boring, straight road in front of you for miles.
  • You can’t speed down a road  at 75 mph when the posted speed limit is 45 mph.
  • You can’t weave in and out of traffic to get ahead of the next car just because you are late to work.
  • You can’t tailgate the car in front of you, riding their bumper because they are driving well below the posted speed limit
  • You can’t scream obscenities when other cars cut in front of you.
  • You can’t show your teen that the rules don’t apply to you.

Somebody Has to Do It

Raising a child is difficult enough, but turning them into excellent drivers is a special life skill that requires inordinate patience, persistence, and practice. However, somebody has to do it, and that just happens to be you.

Article contributed by Amanda G.

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