Your vehicle’s side- and rear-view mirrors are designed to give you a good view of the road behind you while minimizing blind spots. Adjusting them properly is very easy, but it’s also key to staying safe on the road.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), each year, blind spots factor into about 840,000 side-to-side collisions, helping cause 300 deaths, plus thousands of injuries millions of dollars in damages. Proper mirror adjustment and use can help minimize blind spots and reduce the chances of a blind spot collision.
If you’re driving a car that is not your own, or if you recently let someone else drive your car, it can be very easy to forget to adjust your mirrors before you hit the road. Mirrors can also fall out of adjustment due to vibration or bumps as you drive. However, it’s never a good idea to try to adjust your mirrors while driving, as distracted driving is a major cause of vehicle accidents. Instead, get in the habit of taking a quick glance at all your mirrors before you set off to make sure your rearward visibility is optimized.
Follow the steps below to adjust and use your mirrors properly.
How to Adjust Your Side Mirrors
Here’s how to adjust your left and right side-view mirrors for the best visibility:
- Locate your car’s mirror adjustment controls. Most modern cars have an electronic switch that controls the position of your left and right-side mirrors. These switches will have buttons that move your mirrors upward, downward, left, and right. They’ll also have a button that switches control between the left mirror and the right mirror. It’s important to know where this switch is located in any car you drive and how to operate it, so it’s easy to adjust your side mirrors.
- Adjust the side-to-side position. Toggle the side mirror adjustment switch to control your left-side mirror. Then, move your head until it’s resting against the lift-side window. Look at your left-side mirror, and adjust it until you can just barely see the edge of your car in the inside of the mirror. Then, toggle the mirror adjustment switch to control your right-side mirror. Move your head to the right, so it’s positioned right above your car’s center console. Now, set the ride-side mirror, so you can just start to see the edge of your car on the inside of the mirror. This positioning will help maximize your view of the road behind you while minimizing your blind spots.
- Adjust the up-and-down position. Use the side mirror adjustment switches to set your side-view mirrors vertical position. You should give yourself the best possible view of the road behind, but exact vertical placement often comes down to personal preference. You don’t want to see too much sky or too much road. Instead, it’s best to balance the position of each mirror so you can see traffic clearly as well as curbs while parallel parking.
How to Adjust Your Rear-View Mirror
Once your side mirrors are adjusted properly, it’s easy to adjust your rear-view mirror. Be sure to sit normally and use minimal head movements when looking at your rear-view mirror. Then, manually move the mirror until your view is straight out of your car’s rear window, centered, and level. The goal is always to maximize your rearward view.
Depending on your vehicle, your rear-view mirror may also have a manual adjustment tab for night-time driving. These tabs are generally in the center of your mirror, along the bottom. Moving the tab all the way forward or backward will adjust the tilt position of the rear-view mirror. In the daytime position, it will look normal. But, in the night-time position, you will be unable to see much of anything, except headlights. Use this position for driving at night, so other cars’ headlights don’t obscure your vision, but be sure to switch back for day-time driving. If your rear-view mirror does not have a manual adjustment tab, it should handle this switch for you automatically.
How to Use Your Mirrors While Driving
Together, your car’s mirrors will give you a good view of the road around and behind your car. It’s best to scan all of your mirrors frequently while driving, using quick glances rather than long, extended stares that can distract you from the road ahead. As you’re driving, glance at each mirror roughly once every 10 seconds, at minimum. This way, you can build up a mental picture of the cars around you on the road.
While mirrors alone will not eliminate your blind spots fully, having them adjusted properly and using them correctly will help you keep track of other cars around you. You should always check your blind spots with a quick turn of the head before changing lanes or making any other lateral movements. But, actively monitoring your mirrors and tracking your fellow motorists can help you avoid surprises and potential accidents.
In the blink of an eye, rocks kicked up by a passing vehicle can hurl toward your windshield, causing a (hopefully) small ding or crack to appear. The crack may look minor at first, but know that it will gradually spread across your windshield in a spiderweb pattern. If you act fast—before the crack spreads—and have it repaired by a professional, you’ll hopefully avoid the need for a full windshield replacement. Here’s how to proceed, quickly.
1. Skip the Quick Fix Products
As a first-time driver, you might be tempted to use quick fixes to repair the windshield crack yourself. Unfortunately, super glue, clear nail polish, epoxy, and other DIY windshield repair methods never work for long. Worse yet, contaminating the crack in the glass may prevent you from acquiring professional repairs, says Joe Koncikowski, Owner of Lucky Dog Auto Glass in Kent, Wash.
“We have to be able to open a path to vacuum out the air and displace it with resin,” Koncikowski said. “If any part of that path is blocked, then the repair will not be successful. Typically, there is only one chance to get a repair done correctly. If it isn’t done properly the first time, there usually isn’t a second chance.”
Skip the hassle by heading straight to the experts once a crack appears. You just have to make it to the auto glass shop, or have a mobile company come to you, before the crack spreads too far for this simple repair. According to Jon Cox, Manager of Patriot Auto Glass, “If you put a quarter over the impact point of the chip, all the damage must fit underneath” to qualify for repairs. The location also plays a role in determining whether a chip or crack is repairable. Your auto glass professional will assess the damage and let you know the best course of action.
2. Treat Your Car Gently
Until you acquire professional auto glass repairs, it is important to treat your car gently to try to deter the crack from growing. Concussive forces, rapid temperature changes, and external pressure can all instantly expand the crack across your entire windshield.
- Close doors slowly and with great care to limit concussive forces.
- Park in the shade and skip heat and/or air conditioning to prevent rapid temperature changes.
- Delay car washes, especially drive-through systems, to avoid external pressure.
Once you have your windshield repaired or replaced by a professional, you can resume your normal activities without worrying about the integrity of your auto glass.
3. Call Auto Glass Shops for Price Quotes
Auto glass professionals can quickly and easily provide price quotes over the phone, so take advantage by calling several local shops for comparison purposes. Toss out the lowest and highest quotes, and then select from the rest to find the best combination of quality and value. Remember to check current reviews to confirm that the auto glass shop has a great reputation with past and current customers. Once you have selected a shop, call ahead to schedule an appointment before bringing your vehicle down.
Go Mobile for Quicker Service
In most states, current laws make it illegal to drive with dings or cracks in your windshield, and for good reason, too. With forward visibility compromised by windshield damage, your risk of collisions with roadway obstacles, pedestrians, and other vehicles greatly increases. Furthermore, if a collision does occur, an undamaged windshield can help your vehicle retain its rigid structure to help protect you and your passengers from injury.
Despite your status as one of many first-time drivers, if you follow the tips above, you can quickly resolve windshield cracks like a true driving veteran. Remember to jump into action as soon as the crack appears to keep your windshield in optimal condition for years to come.
Intersections can be tricky and scary, and many new and seasoned drivers have run afoul of traffic at intersections. Staying alert and observant, along with minimizing distractions, will help new drivers stay safe at intersections.
Washington State Patrol Trooper Rick Johnson tells his driving-age children to wait a few moments at a newly green light, as others may disobey the law.
“You’re sitting at a red light and it turns green, take a breath and look both ways as if its not green,” Johnson said. “Even in my police car, the light turns green and then someone comes through the intersection that would have hit you if you’d taken off right away.”
For Director of Government and Public Affairs for AAA Oregon Marie Dodds, her advice for new drivers at intersections is to minimize distractions. It can be easy to pick up a phone to post, but it isn’t safe and could be illegal.
“Be a safe driver,” Dodds said. “AAA’s advice is to ditch the distractions, be a safe driver, and let everyone get home from work or appointments or wherever they are driving.”
Other helpful tip and advice from our experts includes:
- Always be observant of other vehicles, and especially observant of pedestrians
- They may not do what you expect them to do, whether legal or illegal
- Minimize distractions, don’t use cell phones or post to social media until you are no longer in the driver’s seat
- Use hands-free connections for calls made during driving
- If an accident happens at an intersection pull off the road and onto the shoulder (if possible):
- Contact the other driver, exchange insurance information
- Pull off the road and onto the shoulder (if cars are able to move)
- Call 911 and wait in your car until authorities arrive at the scene
At a traffic circle, also known as a roundabout, oncoming traffic will come from the left with drivers merging with traffic flowing counter-clockwise around the circle.
At a 4-way intersection, can be an a-typical, equilateral cross or have odd-angle approaches. Be sure to look all directions and wait until its time to make a maneuver.
T-intersections may or may not have a stop for traffic crossing the top of the ‘T’. Be especially watchful and ensure there’s more than enough time to merge in the intended direction of travel.
These are usually minor roads connecting with more major routes and may or may not have three-way stopping, so proceed when safe.
At uncontrolled intersections, neither car has vehicle his right of way so it’s usually a ‘first-come, first-go’ basis.
In many cities, pedestrians have the right of way when using a marked crosswalk. Whether the crosswalk has a stop-sign or not, drivers should stop to allow pedestrians safe passage across the street.
When you’re driving around town, using these tips and tricks to approaching an intersection can help you out in the long run.
Most of us spend a great deal of time in our car. And frankly, we may not always drive as courteously or safely as we should, which puts ourselves and others in danger. As we celebrate the beginning of a new year, let’s resolve to actively curb dangerous driving behaviors.
Not a fan of making resolutions? We totally understand. However, accidents are on the rise; 94% of road incidents are caused by driver decisions and attitudes behind the wheel. Most of us also don’t realize this, and take our safety in the driver’s seat for granted. As you begin making plans for 2018, ensure your safety and pledge to be mindful, cautious, and courteous behind the wheel.
Here’s a list of recommended common-sense, safe driving resolutions to get you started:
- “I resolve not to drink any alcohol or take any impairing drug or medication if I’m going to be driving.”
- “I resolve not to ask anyone who has been drinking, ‘Are you okay to drive?’, because I know that they really aren’t.”
- “I resolve not to knowingly let anyone drive buzzed, drunk, or drugged.”
- “I resolve to stay sober if I am the designated driver, even if I’m offered free drinks.”
- “I resolve to focus on the road and not text or talk on my cell phone while driving.”
- “I resolve to not call or text anyone when I think they may be driving.”
- “I resolve to turn off my phone or put it out of reach when I’m driving so that I don’t get distracted.”
- “I resolve to require everyone, myself included, to buckle up before every ride, day or night.”
- “I resolve not to be a rebel on the road, to follow speed, red light, safe turns and all other traffic laws.”
- “I resolve to be a courteous commuter and a well-mannered motorist.”
- “I resolve to share the road safely with motorists, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians alike.”
We challenge all our safe driving readers to pick three resolutions from this list to work on throughout 2018. You, too, can help make U.S. roads safer for all this coming year.
Also on DriversEd.com:
Say you’re out on the road this holiday season and you spot one or more of the telltale signs of a drunk or distracted driver — swerving, weaving in between lanes, driving too fast or too slow, tailgating, braking erratically, ignoring traffic signs, etc. This makes you nervous, as it would for any safe driver. So what, if anything, should you do?
Statistics show in 2015, there were more than 390,000 injuries and 3,400 fatalities attributed to distracted driving in the U.S., while alcohol-impaired drivers caused 10,265 fatalities and over 290,000 injuries. Car accidents spike over the winter holidays when weather conditions can be dangerous, holiday travel means roads are more congested, and alcohol consumption increases. The pervasiveness of these incidents means that when you suspect another driver of being impaired by alcohol or distraction, you have an obligation to report them.
There are several things you can do to take precaution:
Get out of the way. If you witness erratic driving, before you take any other steps, make sure you are out of the car’s danger zone. Put a safe distance between you and the other car, either by slowing down to let them pass or pulling ahead. Do not tail the other car to collect information, or attempt to stop the driver.
Take note of important information. If you can do so while maintaining a safe distance, take note of the make, model, license plate number, and any other distinctive features of the car, driver, and passengers. If you have a passenger in your car, ask them to record the information.
If you feel you or others are in danger, call 9-1-1. Report a dangerous situation by calling 9-1-1. Share the information you’ve gathered about the other driver, your location and direction of travel, citing the specific behavior you’ve witnessed (i.e. swerving, excessive speed). Have your passenger make this call, or pull over to use the phone if you are alone.
For more minor incidents, report to a non-emergency number. If you don’t feel the behavior endangers others, but you are still concerned, you can report the driver to your local police non-emergency number. Some states have numbers designated for reporting dangerous drivers. In New Jersey, unless the situation is life-threatening, citizens are asked to report drunk or distracted drivers to the #77 Dangerous Driver System. In Colorado, motorists can dial *277 to report aggressive driving that does not put other drivers at risk. Alternatively, local city or police departments often have an online form for reporting reckless driving.
As parents, you want to keep your children safe and teach them right from wrong. In a world where peer pressure and doing what is cool rules, it can be hard to get these lessons across, especially when it comes to driving. One of the easiest ways to do this is to demonstrate good driver role model behavior for your teens.
When parents drive distracted or model other types of poor driving behavior, it does influence teens. A 2014 survey found that parents even phone their teens while their teen is driving, and may not relent until the teen answers. And studies show that teens who are around distracted-driving parents are two to four times more likely to drive distracted themselves.
“The most important thing is for parents to remember from the time their children turn around and face forward in their car seat, they are watching parents driving—and learning,” said Maureen Vogel, Senior Manager, Public Relations, National Safety Council.
1. Stop Behind-the-Wheel Cell Phone Use
One way to model good behavior is not to text while driving. Teens see enough of this on television shows, movies, and possibly in real life with their friends. Whether you know it or not, they do look up to you and you can make a difference. Show them by example that it is not worth risking their lives to answer a question, see a picture, or watch a video while driving.
2. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
It’s estimated that nearly 84 million Americans drive drowsy every day. Drowsy driving constitutes impaired driving, and with severe sleep deprivation, driving becomes extremely risky. But, getting enough sleep can be difficult. This can be especially true if you work a demanding job, or for teens, if they have a lot of after-school commitments and homework. Explain to your teenager why it is so important to get a good night’s sleep and that they should never get behind the wheel if they are feeling drowsy.
Also, know that drinking coffee, listening to loud music, or letting fresh air in will not do the trick—for neither you or your teen. A good night’s rest is the best option for having a safe day behind the wheel. From there, be the example and make sure that both you and your teen get a full eight hours rest every night.
3. Do Not Eat While Driving
These days it is so easy to stop at the drive-thru and grab a meal. We are often rushing from here to there and often must eat on the go. However, this is not a good example for our teenagers.
Rustling in bags, passing food to other passengers, and fiddling with straws is distracting and can lead to accidents. Instead, set the standard by either pulling into a parking space for five minutes and eat what you can of your food or simply wait until you get to your next destination.
Overall, Vogel cautions parents to be mindful of their teens’ always-watching eye.
“Eighty percent of teen drivers look to their parents to be their good driving role models,” Vogel said. “They really pay attention and look to them for guidance”
In providing your teenager with good driving skills and common sense, you are setting your teenager up for a safe, long-lasting driving experience.
Read more from DriversEd.com, I Drive Safely, and eDriving:
- Read our corporate blog post “It’s Time We Take a Stand Against Drowsy Driving” on eDriving.com
- Want to be a defensive driver? Our One More Second defensive driving course teaches advanced skills to make sure you are ready for whatever the road brings
- Read our corporate blog post “As fatigue is declared a deadly epidemic, it’s time for drivers to wake up to the danger of drowsy driving” on eDriving.com
Teaching their teens to drive is a rite of passage for many Texas parents, but the process is still often nerve-wracking for both parties. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources available to make teaching your teen to drive as straightforward and stress-free as possible. Our app, Mentor for Families by eDriving, allows you to monitor your teen’s driving progress in real time, acting as your child’s personal driving coach and generating a FICO® Safe Driving Score after every trip. Information is stored on your teen’s favorite device – their smartphone. As you use the app to monitor your teen’s progress, read on for our recommendation on the right path to take toward parent-taught drivers education success.
Start the teaching process by completing Form DL-92, Request for a New Parent-Taught Drivers Education Packet, online. Before you receive your packet, the state of Texas will conduct a simple background check, ensuring you are indeed the student’s parent, step-parent, grandparent, foster parent or legal guardian, and that you have had a valid Texas driver’s license for at least the prior three years. Parents whose license has been revoked or suspended for traffic-related offenses within the past three years are ineligible, as are any parents with six or more current points on their license. Once this background check is concluded, expect to receive the packet in two to three weeks.
Act as an Educator
When you start teaching your child to drive, you’re no longer just a parent – you’re also an educator. That means your duties extend beyond teaching your teen how to back up and parallel park. You must also talk to your teen about safe driving practices and how to spot issues before they occur. As a parent, you already know that much of driving safely involves watching out for the other guy, and it’s a lesson to impart to your teenager.
Too many parents make the mistake of only taking their teens driving on local, low-traffic roads in the light of day. For teens to really understand the rudiments of driving and traffic safety, they must experience highway driving, driving at night and during inclement weather, and driving on unfamiliar roads. Real life driving involves these situations, and the best way for your teen to learn to navigate these circumstance is by having a concerned parent along for advice.
Practice, Practice, Practice
If there’s a mantra for teaching your teen to drive, it’s “Practice, practice, practice.” Texas requires just 44 hours of supervised behind the wheel driving, of which 10 must be conducted at night. Ideally, you and your child will spend even more time in driver training, so your teen receives more time behind the wheel and you gain confidence in your teen’s ability.
Use the Driver Education Log Sheet
Parents are responsible for maintaining the Driver Education Log Sheet, a document containing the necessary objectives for course completion. As your teen reaches each driving milestone, you must sign off on the log sheet. When your child is ready to apply for their driver’s license, the sheet is presented to your local Department of Public Safety.
Involved parents keep teens safe. The time you spend training your teen to drive serves as an important bonding experience, but it is so much more. Research shows that teens with involved parents are much less likely to get into car accidents than those lacking strong parental involvement levels. Texas Parent Taught Drivers Ed may prove one of the most critical gifts you’ve ever given your teenager.
Read more of our resources on teen drivers education:
On Halloween once-quiet streets suddenly fill with bustling trick-or-treaters making their way from house to house. Although the night is for children to revel in costumes and candy, for parents and caregivers, making sure kids stay safe while going door-to-door can be stressful, and a challenge. Driving collisions are more common on Halloween, and children should take additional precautions when navigating the neighborhood.
According to Safe Kids Worldwide, children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a vehicle and killed on Halloween than on any other day of the year. The number of drunk drivers on the streets increases and so does the fatality toll. In fact, in 2012, 48 percent of all collision deaths on Halloween involved a drunk driver, whereas that rate is only 31 percent on any other day. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), pedestrians counted for 28 percent of Halloween fatalities, double the rate of an average day.
A traditional nighttime celebration, the excitement of costumes, treats, and alcoholic beverages can set the scene for unexpected tragedies. Driving accidents occur most often at night, as it’s more difficult for drivers to see their surroundings. The escalating use of cell phones while on the behind the wheel has made roads more dangerous. The Federal Communications Commission states that there are around 660,000 drivers using electronic devices at any given time, and that figure is only growing. In 2015, the NHTSA found that distracted driving resulted in 3,477 deaths and 391,000 injuries.
So, before your children set out on Halloween to collect their candy, take advantage of these 5 child pedestrian safety tips:
- Children under 12 should trick-or-treat with an adult. Children who are older can go with friends as long as they have a lay of the land and know the route back home. They should also have emergency contact numbers ready, and protocol in place in case an accident happens.
- Instead of donning a mask, opt for face paint for your child. Not only is a heavy mask uncomfortable, but it can also obstruct your child’s line of vision.
- Make sure your child looks in both directions, and left again, before crossing the street. If they hear or sense alarming activity, tell them to hang back until the coast is clear. At crosswalks, children should make eye contact with drivers before crossing.
- Teach your child to keep an eye for parked cars, and to never run in between them. Even if a car is stationary, that doesn’t mean it can’t move in an instant.
- Make them visible. Colorful costumes are easiest for drivers to spot. However, if your child is set on dressing up as Darth Vader, or in any other completely black outfit, it’s important that they have some kind of flashlight, reflective tape, or some other kind of illumination on their costume so that drivers are aware of their presence. Aesthetics aside, it’s important that your child’s costume fits properly to prevent trips and falls.
Hey everyone, long time no see! As you guys know, I am a high school junior. There is so much that goes into junior year – lots of homework, a bunch of projects, and at least a few tests everyday. It can get super stressful! And with such a busy schedule it’s really hard to fit in driving. Here are some ways I have found to squeeze driving into a busy school schedule:
- Ask your parents to let you drive to or from school. In California, more than half of the kids don’t have buses available to them, so depending on how far it is to school, this drive can be a great way to add on some minutes to your driving record. I live about a fifteen-minute drive from my school so it’s an easy and convenient way to rack up hours.
- Use the weekends to your advantage, usually on the weekends my family goes to the movies, or the beach, or a special outing, or something of that nature. Since I have gotten my permit I have always asked to drive. Experience is everything when it comes to driving, so ask to drive as much as possible.
- Suggest a family outing once a week. Offer to drive the family somewhere to gain practice once a week, like going out for ice cream on a Sunday evening. This will also help you break out of your routine and develop other driving skills, such as nighttime driving.
- Always offer to drive. Lastly I think this serves as a good blanket rule to follow – always offer to drive! Like I said before, experience is everything, drive as much as possible, and as often as possible, to prepare for your driving exam. Practice makes perfect, so try to drive a lot before you take you test.
When you have a busy schedule, it can be hard to find time to drive with your parents, but there are lots of ways to fit it in. Of course, you need to make sure some hours are in the evening, some during the day, and to be really good (if you live in an urban area, like my home city of Oakland, Calif.) your driving experience should include some of the tough passages like the MacArthur Maze, which is two miles from my house and where four freeways meet! It isn’t where I started driving the first couple of months but gradually I have taken on these tougher routes.
If you’re still looking for some extra help while you practice, don’t forget to download the new Mentor for Families by eDriving app which tracks your driving hours, performance, and provides helpful training tips to improve your driving skills. Happy driving!
Read more from DriversEd.com’s teen blogger Jett Roberts:
- Teen blogger Jett Roberts talks 1-on-1 with a DriversEd.com driving instructor
- Teen talk: 5 Stars for Mentor, eDriving’s new app!
- Teen Blogger Jett Roberts Picks up Defensive Driving Tips in his Interview with a DriversEd.com Instructor
Are you a parent who panics at the mention of “supervised driving practice”? Here’s a suggestion: Look at it as a great opportunity. The driver’s education stage is the best time you’ll have to influence and shape your teen’s lifelong driving behavior.
In 2013, teens 15-19 represented only 7% of the U.S. population. However, they accounted for 11% ($10 billion) of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries. That’s why all 50 states and the District of Columbia impose a three-stage Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) system. Most states require the learner stage of GDL programs to include at least six months of supervised driving practice, or longer. While this is the ideal time for your teen to gain experience in various driving situations, many parents don’t know how best to train and support their teen during this period, other than riding along with them. Know that there is much more to supervised driving practice than “collecting” hours—it’s what you do with your teen during those hours that counts.
Lack of variety
A report published by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says the types of driving practice teens are currently getting is “relatively homogeneous”; they’re regularly driving in residential neighborhoods and light traffic, but less frequently in more challenging situations such as highways, inclement weather, darkness, and heavy traffic.
“The vast majority of practice is the same trips, the same routines over and over again, so teens might be driving to school each day or driving to church on Sunday. And those might be the only settings in which teens are getting practice,” said report author Arthur Goodwin, Senior Research Associate, University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center. “By the time they are eligible for their license, we have teens who have never been on an interstate highway, never driven in bad weather or at night—situations they’ll be driving in once they are on their own. And ideally, we want them to experience those more challenging settings for the first time with a parent there to help.”
The main obstacle to varied practice, it seems, is time, and the fact that families tend to incorporate driving practice into “typical family travel”.
“Driving practice is generally squeezed in wherever the family has time and opportunity,” Goodwin said. To provide different training experiences for your teen, you’ll likely need to make a few special trips.
Communication is important during supervised driving practice, but parents appear to be focusing on practical instructions such as vehicle handling and giving directions, Goodwin said, rather than providing useful advice on skills like scanning, hazard perception, and anticipating the behavior of others.
“Parents could be doing a lot more to help their teens learn to see the road like an experienced driver, such as learning to spot hazards in advance, rather than slowing down at the last minute; helping them spot trouble before it occurs,” said Goodwin. “Many parents aren’t taking full advantage of the six to 12 months of driving practice because most of the time they are more or less sitting there as passengers. Teens are getting practice, but they’re probably not learning as much from that practice as we would have hoped.”
OK, so you’re not a driving instructor!
Let’s be realistic: it’s likely parents have zero to very little experience in teaching teenagers how to drive. And to make things even more challenging, Goodwin said, “most parents learned to drive before the GDL existed, so they didn’t have these long supervised driving periods. Parents have no ‘model’ to look back on, so they are coming up with this themselves.”
5 ways parents can effectively train their teen during supervised driving practice:
- Practice, practice, practice. State supervised driving hours are a minimum. The more your teen drives, the more experienced they’ll be when they get on the road alone.
- Increase variety. Once your teen’s ready, let them progress from residential streets and light traffic to busier roads with heavier traffic.
- Break the routine. Make special trips so your teen experiences driving in all settings, such as in the dark and in the rain.
- Communicate. Help your teen see the road like an experienced driver. Encourage them to look well ahead for hazards, scan the road and drive defensively.
- Continue coaching. Once your teen has his or her full driving license, don’t just hand over the keys. Continue supervising when appropriate—and keep track of when and where your teen is driving.
A job well done, but not over
What happens when your teen does pass their driving test? Your effort is not over. Goodwin recommends parents continue supervising their teens’ driving, by varied means.
“They could continue to supervise on occasions; say if there is snow or ice and the teen has never driven in that setting,” he said. “Parents also need to keep very close track of when and where their teens are driving. There may be settings in which the teen hasn’t had an opportunity to get much practice so maybe their driving in that setting should be limited. If they haven’t driven much at night, for example, then even though the teen has a license and even though there might be license restrictions on nighttime driving, parents might want to add their own restrictions on driving in the dark until they have chance to get out for more practice.”
Thanks to new technology, you can now supervise your teen even when you’re not in the car with them. In fact, technology can give you a helping hand to teach your teen to drive. And you can use it to monitor your teen’s approach to safe driving, including monitoring your teen’s driving performance, such as braking and acceleration trends, obeying speed limits, and avoiding distractions.
“There is a space for technology, and that’s something most families seem to welcome, especially if it can make their lives easier. If we can find ways to use that tool to encourage parents to help their teens to become safer drivers, that is an even greater benefit.” — Arthur Goodwin, UNC Highway Safety Research Center
eDriving and DriversEd.com have the tools to help:
- Mentor for Families by eDriving, is a smartphone app that serves as a “coach at your fingertips” during supervised driving. It tracks journeys, helps you log your teen’s driving hours and provides in-app coaching. Once your teen is driving independently it helps them maintain good habits and lets you see how they are doing on the road.
- eDriving’s interactive One More Second® online course is the ideal preparation for supervised practice. Retrain your own habits and learn ways to instruct your teen in two hours.
- Professional in-car lessons with a driving instructor are the perfect supplement to parent coaching. Why not ride along with your teen to pick up tips from an expert?