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As teenagers begin learning how to drive, parents naturally play a vital role in helping their aspiring drivers learn the skills necessary to stay safe on the road.


While finding a reliable driving school and making time for driving practice are key elements to helping someone become an accomplished driver, it’s important for parents to remember that they need to be positive driving role models when they’re behind the wheel as well.


A 2018 study put out by Liberty Mutual Insurance asked thousands of teen drivers and parents of licensed teen drivers about their driving behaviors, specifically relating to dangerous habits. The results found that the parents engaged in unsafe practices at staggeringly similar rates as their teens.


When a parent violates safe driving guidelines by speeding, texting while driving, or even taking selfies, it sends a signal to the teen driver that it’s okay to bend the rules as well.


If you are the parent of a student or newly licensed teen driver and want to make sure your son or daughter learns to follow safe driving rules and avoid dangerous tendencies, the following tips should help you be a great driving role model:

Stay Consistent With the Guidelines Specified By Your Teen’s Driving School and the Local Driving Manual

Driving school curriculum's are designed to teach student drivers the concepts that are universal for all drivers as well as those that are consistent with their corresponding state driving laws.


While doing so isn’t encouraged, it’s common for seasoned drivers to bend some of the rules they learned back in drivers ed. No matter how second nature it has become to drive with one hand on the wheel or to drive slightly over the speed limit in low-traffic areas, try to abide by the same rules that your teen is being asked to follow.


The more that your influence harmonizes with the guidance of your teen’s driving instructor, the more likely your teen is to pass the drivers license test as well as firmly adopt and understand safe driving habits.

Establish and Demonstrate Healthy Pre-Driving Routines

Part of being being a safe driver involves establishing a healthy routine before even starting your car. This includes:


  • Making sure there are no obstacles in front of or behind the vehicle

  • Adjusting your seat and mirrors

  • Putting on your seatbelt and ensuring all passengers are wearing theirs

  • Locking the doors

  • Setting up your GPS and/or putting on music



Make a point to explain the steps of your routine to your teen and why each one is important. If you continually demonstrate your pre-driving routine, your teen will be more likely to naturally pick it up too.

Avoid Any Distractions While Operating a Vehicle

Distracted driving poses numerous risks that are, for the most part, preventable. Avoiding all causes of distracted driving is recommended for drivers of any experience level, but it’s especially important for new drivers who are still adjusting to life behind the wheel.


To best model how to be an attentive and alert driver for your teen, do your best to resist engaging in any form of distraction, regardless of the legality. This includes:


  • Texting, taking calls, or taking selfies

  • Eating or drinking

  • Grooming

  • Adjusting the radio or changing the music

  • Entering GPS information

  • Daydreaming

  • Driving while drowsy

Maintain a Cool, Even Temperament While Driving

Sharing the road with others can certainly be frustrating at times, but as easy as it is to feel flustered, it’s important to show your teen how to keep emotions in check on the road.


Road rage and aggressive driving can lead to impulsive decision making, which often contributes to unsafe outcomes. Maintaining a cool and even temperament in high stress moments helps tremendously in avoiding dangerous collisions and altercations. 


When an intense situation arises while driving, the goals should be to uphold a calm composure and focus on keeping all parties safe on the road rather than to chastise or retaliate against a driver who made you angry. Don’t make aggressive comments or gestures, and never follow a driver who upset you. If a driver makes offensive gestures at you, don’t respond, and continue to drive calmly.

Show Respect for Other Drivers

Showing common courtesy and respect for other drivers on the road is an important lesson for any new driver to pick up, as it helps prevent collisions and reduce road rage incidents.


The only way to teach your teen proper road etiquette is to lead by example. You can start by following these tips:


  • Give drivers adequate space, and avoid tailgating.

  • Always use your turn signal with enough notice to let other drivers know you are changing lanes or turning.

  • Avoid driving too slowly in the passing lane.

  • Allow drivers to merge safely.

  • When possible, try to stay out of other drivers’ blind spots.

  • Avoid abruptly pressing on your brakes or making sudden, erratic movements.

  • Never block intersections or crosswalks.

  • Come to complete stops at stop signs.

  • Don’t take up more than one parking spot.

Emphasize the Importance of Proper Vehicle Maintenance

Showing your teen the importance of vehicle maintenance will help instill a practical sense of responsibility when it comes to making sure a vehicle is in safe condition to drive. 


While it’s easy for any driver to get behind on tasks like getting new tires or changing the oil, committing to staying up to date will send a good message to your teen about vehicle ownership, and it will also be a good time to demonstrate how and/or where to complete these tasks. 

Take Time to Properly Plan Ahead

Taking time to properly plan ahead is an essential trait of any skilled driver. Adequate forethought can help drivers manage unexpected circumstances, adapt to hazardous weather conditions, and reduce possible distractions.


The best way to encourage your teen to become a driver who plans ahead is to be one yourself. Here are some tips that will help:


  • Always equip your car with jacks, jumper cables, and a spare tire.

  • If it’s crucial to arrive at a destination by a certain time, always leave early, especially in times of heavy traffic or during inclement weather.

  • When going to a destination that you have never been to before, research the directions ahead of time, and make sure you have the correct address entered into your GPS  before starting the car.

  • Before long journeys, it’s a good idea to have your car inspected by an automotive professional.


Closing Up

As you start teaching your son or daughter how to drive, remember that he/she will pick up on more of your driving habits than you realize. By following the rules, showcasing safe driving practices, and exhibiting respect for your fellow drivers, you will be an effective driving coach to your teen while sharpening your own driving skills in the process.

Safety Reminders for the Seasoned Driver

By Steve Johnson


The skill of driving can be similar to riding a bike. Once you learn, you never forget how to do it. However, as more time passes you may become a bit more lax on how cautious you are while driving. It only takes a split second for an accident to occur and even the most seasoned driver is not infallible. Use these tips below to ensure your safety and others that are on the road with you.


Make sure your posture is correct


A lot of veteran drivers have the tendency to recline their seat more than what is actually needed. When you are driving your seat should be upright with just a slight recline of about 95-110 degrees to protect your back. Also you will want to be sure to drive with both hands on the steering wheel. It may be tempting and seem more comfortable to drive with one hand, however when both hands are on the wheel, you have more control over the car and you are less likely to have a car accident. The proper position your hands should be on the wheel is akin to 10 and 2 on a clock.


Eliminate distractions


As an experienced driver it’s easy to allow some hindering habits seep in while you are commuting. Loud music, phone conversations and passengers are all forms of distraction that can impede your focus. Bear in mind that distractions are the number one cause of accidents, beating speeding by a long shot. Keep conversations at a minimum while you are driving and keep your phone out of sight.


Eating while driving is another common distraction that most seasoned drivers make. Anything that takes your focus off of the road ahead of you is considered a distraction and the cost could be fatal. When you received your driver’s license, you made an agreement to adhere to act as a safe motorists. Distracted driving not only could potentially harm you, you are putting every other motorist on the road at risk as well. Remember, anything considered distracting can wait until you are not operating a motor vehicle.


Do not drive while tired


Everyday, at any moment, there are hundreds of motorists commuting to and fro. Lifestyles are getting more and more hectic and it seems everyone always has somewhere to be. Before getting behind the wheel, it is important that you are rested and have had the adequate amount of sleep prior to driving. Operating a vehicle while drowsy can be just as fatal as driving while under the influence.


Fortunately there are other options to take if you find yourself too tired to drive. Ride sharing is an increasing trend in the United States and it aids in the reduction of traffic deaths and DUI arrests. Uber is the most commonly known ride-sharing service, but as this trend grows more services like it will continue to thrive.


Skill is good but do not rely on it


Driving is an awesome privilege to enjoy. However, as one becomes more seasoned, one may feel over-confident in their abilities. It is important to stay alert and on guard while driving, no matter how long you have been behind the wheel. Each day you are on the road, risks present themselves. As a skilled motorist, you must always keep safety your number one priority. When you travel with non-licensed passenger, you are inadvertently showing them habits of driving, so it will prove to be beneficial to drive with care and alertness, so they too will pick up those fine habits. When you do your part behind the wheel, you are aiding in the safety of all motorists on the road, and that is something to be proud of.

Steve Johnson is a pre-med student who is passionate about helping people find reputable health and medical information across the web so he co-created PublicHealthLibrary, which aims to make it easier for people to find reliable health information online.

THANKS to Steve for being an advocate for public safety!!!