When my second daughter was learning to ride a bike without training wheels, I Googled the subject and came across a simple, yet highly effective tip. Instead of holding to the seat to steady them, gently hold the child by the back of the neck to keep them upright while riding, yet letting their body naturally learn to come into balance. It literally took 2 or 3 uses of this technique, and my daughter was riding like the wind!
It is in this spirit of improving an important parental teaching moment that I want to share a terrific article I came across in the October 22, 2014 edition of The Wall Street Journal: "Better Ways to Teach Teens to Drive" by Sue Shellenbarger. It was so helpful, that I thought I'd paraphrase the real salient points for you lucky(?!) parents who are teaching their teenagers how to drive, like me (on my second one -- the same one with the bike!).
Apparently, we do an okay job with teaching our kids how to steer, park and generally control a vehicle. But, parents are not expert in teaching the skills new drivers need to avoid accidents.
Parents tend to follow routine daytime driving along familiar routes, but don't go on to teach how to spot and avoid possible hazards, such as slowing when coming to a crosswalk where there might be people waiting to cross.
Deborah Hersman, president of the National Safety Council, says, "The most important things parents can teach teens are how to develop hazard recognition and judgment -- making the left turns into oncoming traffic, how to merge on and off highways at high speed."
Other successful tactics gleaned from the article include:
--Take your teen into gradually more challenging and varied roads, at night and in bad weather.
--Teach the young driver never to glance away from the road for more than two seconds.
--Require them to silence cell phones and keep stored away while driving.
--While accompanying your teen in the car, parents need to stay calm and avoid being overly critical. Don't bring up touchy issue (like poor grades, or a significant other issue).
--Be specific and sensitive in any constructive criticism.
--Stay calm. Try to not panic and stomp on the imaginary brakes if you think they're going too fast.
According to a 2011 study of 257,000 accidents by Robert Foss, of the Highway Safety Research Center, teens still make mistakes for their first few months of solo driving, then, as the learning sets in, the potential for accidents does start quickly tapering off.
So, if you follow these tips and do a little praying while your teen starts driving solo for the first few months, you should be able to rest a little easier after that.
I have access to an excellent, free, teen driving video that Farmers created. Let me know if you're interested in having your teen watch it.
David Yates Insurance Agency
1881 General George Patton Dr., Suite 103
Franklin, TN 37067
Phone 615-778-1816 Fax 615-778-1817
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