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Teaching Your Teen Traffic Laws

Preparing your teen to drive requires they have a basic understanding of the road.

From chauffeured to chauffeuring – while your middle schooler is still a few years away from driving, they will soon make the transition from being driven around to driving others around. Now is a great time to start preparing them to be safe behind the wheel. This type of safety starts with teaching them traffic laws, as well as the risks and challenges associated with driving.

You May Be Asking Yourself Where Do I Begin?

Preparing your teen to drive requires they have a basic understanding of the road. While they may be used to riding around, their eyes are more than likely captivated by their device rather than paying attention to the rules of the road. Start with the automobile basics. Make sure they understand a car´s different features and how they contribute to road safety. As you go on a morning commute or a weekend getaway, take time to start explaining to them the decisions that you are making as you drive. Allowing them to understand pausing at a yield sign or coming to a complete stop at a stop sign are lessons that will prepare them to begin thinking about the more complex traffic laws.

Don´t Assume Anything

It is worth saying twice – when beginning the challenge of preparing your teen to drive, don´t assume they know anything. For example, they have likely been watching you respond to traffic lights for years, but they may or may not really think about the quick decisions drivers have to make in response to traffic lights. Interpreting traffic lights is one vital part of teaching your teen traffic laws. Paying attention to traffic lights while actually driving will help your child gain a better understanding and deeper appreciation for how much red, yellow, and green lights assist car operators in safe driving.

General Safety Rules:

Now, there are a lot of laws to remember and some may vary from one state to another, so it is important to double check specific items for your state. Some basic laws may be the same from one state to another, but it is best to double check before you get started. Meanwhile, part of being a safe driver is understanding common traffic signs. The earlier you start teaching your child these signs and how they apply to traffic, the better prepared they will be to drive safely.

Teens will also need to know how weather can change driving. Don´t forget to help them understand the need for headlights and windshield wipers during rainy conditions. From there, other specific weather conditions can be discussed in relation to traffic safety.

Remember that Your Child is Watching:

Every time you step into the car, regardless of whether your child is riding shotgun or seated in the back, they are watching. What type of message are you sending? From your braking patterns to how you respond to other drivers, lessons are being taught each and every trip. Be mindful of how you use your devices during drives and what you do to put safety first.

Other Important Topics:

Traffic safety is a huge topic. Consider discussing the dangers of being a distracted driver. Give examples of what this looks like and how to avoid getting sidetracked by passengers, devices, etc. In addition, helping your child understand how passengers may impact their drive is important. Don’t forget to provide some information about nighttime driving, the dangers of speeding, seatbelt safety, and drinking and driving. Combine those topics with how weather conditions can impact commutes and the needed time to get all these topics thoroughly covered greatly increases. There are plenty of topics to keep drivers safe that may not be laws per say, but they still can make the difference between a safe trip and one that becomes a sad statistic.

Why are Traffic Laws Important?

Between 2015-2019, over 15,000 teen drivers between the ages of 16-19 were involved in a motor vehicle fatality. Many of these crashes involved speeding. In addition, over 22,000 passengers in vehicles driven by teens were involved in fatal crashes in 2019. Almost one-half of these people were not wearing a seat belt. There are more staggering statistics that clarify how important it is for drivers to pay attention to traffic laws. Understanding the facts and risks enables everyone to see that poor choices can lead to devastating outcomes. From driving too fast to forgetting to halt at a stop sign, making sure that your teen can associate their choices with real life consequences. Their maturity and acknowledgement of such is evidence that they are ready for the momentus task of taking to the open road.

Traffic laws are such a vast category. Do not feel overwhelmed by teaching your child this critical information. Allow it to be a natural conversation while in the car. Use some time each week to discuss one topic at home. Before you know it, many of these topics will be checked off and can be reviewed as needed.

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