CAA cares about the safety of your teen and we want to help prepare you and your child for the dangers of driving.
With motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of death among teens in Canada, CAA recognizes the critical requirement for young drivers to start their driving careers off on the right foot. That is why we have created a comprehensive guide for new drivers and their parents. DriveRight features useful reminders, tips, questions and do’s and don’ts that parents and new drivers can refer to throughout the learning-to-drive process.
Keys to Safer Teen Driving
Remember that you’re a role model.
When a driver cuts you off in traffic, how do you respond? Do you roll through stop signs? Speed when you’re late for a meeting? It might not always seem like it, but as parents we still wield the most influence in our teens’ lives. And their driving skills are learned, not inherited.
What you do is at least as important as what you say—probably more. So don’t fool yourself about how well you practice safe driving. Research shows that 95 percent of parents believe they’re safe drivers, but 82 percent of teens report seeing their parent being careless when driving.
Take advantage of teachable moments.
As a parent, there are plenty of opportunities for you to impart advice to your teen directly without him or her tuning you out. When you drive in everyday situations and your son or daughter is a passenger, take a second to explain what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. For example, you might say, “It’s raining, so I’m braking earlier in case the road is slick.”
Of course, you don’t want to provide a running commentary on your every maneuver. But you can recognize teachable moments and prepare your teen for similar circumstances. You can also share your own driving experiences: “I looked down to change the radio station and almost rear-ended the car in front of me that stopped suddenly,” or “That driver ran the red light. That’s why it’s always a good idea to expect the unexpected and look to either side before entering an intersection.” Usually, you’ll find your teen surprisingly engaged and ready to listen.
Make the most of practice.
Before setting out, take a few minutes in the driveway or parking lot to talk about the skills you and your teen will practice in that session. During the lesson, stay calm and reinforce what your teen does well. Correct mistakes by asking questions (“What’s the speed limit here?”) rather than getting upset (“You’re going way too fast!”).
Take regular breaks—as often as every 20 minutes—to offer feedback on both good and bad points and discuss what you’ve just practiced. If your teen did something dangerous behind the wheel, explain why and discuss the possible consequences calmly.
Learning to drive is an important and risky time in a teen’s life, and your involvement is just as crucial now as it was when your child was learning to walk or ride a bike. Your teen may have passed a road test and obtained a license, but you still need to monitor their driving, ride with them as a passenger as often as possible, and set guidelines. Remember, they’re still learning. It’ll take a couple of years for them to get the experience they need to anticipate problem situations.
That means keeping the lines of communication open—and signing a parent-teen driving agreement, in which both you and your teen agree on the conditions for driving privileges, restrictions, and the consequences for violating them.
CAA Practise Safe Txt Video Contest
In the fall of 2011, CAA issued a call to action to youth from coast to coast, asking them to show their friends and family why it’s dangerous to text while driving. CAA research shows texting while driving is the number one road safety concern of Canadians, surpassing even impaired driving, and those most likely to text and drive are youth.
A panel of judges awarded Maxime Lefrançois (Québec, Quebec) the top prize in CAA’s national Practise Safe Txt youth video contest for his submission titled “Prends pas le risque” (Don’t take the chance/risk).