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When I started to think about teaching our teen to drive, I was very focused on teaching her the laws and rules for driving on the road. So much so that I nearly missed the most important part of driving – keeping the driver, passenger and other drivers on the road safe. Looking back, that’s where it should all start before anything else is said. We are partnering with Mercury Insurance to share how we’re teaching Maddie to drive with the help of their teen driver tools.
Ten years ago, I remember driving in the car with Maddie and Ashley. Maddie was telling me from the back seat that she couldn’t wait to drive. I remember laughing, thinking that it was years and years away from happening. I’m here to say that those ten years flew by. Like “close your eyes and blink,” and they were gone. That fast.
Fast forward and she is now 14, and I decided that I should be starting to teach her to drive. She wasn’t old enough to get behind the wheel, but I knew there were other ways to start our lessons. I started explaining everything I was doing…
“I’m looking in my right mirror as I slow down with my turn signal on.”.
“Now I am slowly turning the corner.”
“See how I am never taking my eyes off the road?”
But the one thing I really missed with all of my training was that I should have started the conversation with a reminder that the most important aspect of driving is to keep you and everyone else safe. Once you focus on that, everything else falls into place.
Thankfully I remembered that pretty quickly, and we had a long talk about it. She is such a responsible kid that she was already in that state of mind, and she is just about to take the driver’s test.
We still talk about it all the time though because driving safely and poor decision-making are the biggest dangers for teen drivers. Since more and more teen drivers are on the road, it’s imperative for us parents to educate our teens on driver safety, even more than in years past.
An eye-opening statistic that I’ve shared with Maddie is that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 2,524 teen drivers and passengers were killed and 177,000 were injured in 2013. With mobile technology and the use of mobile apps steadily increasing, distracted driving accidents are on the rise. I think these numbers are shocking, and they really caught Maddie off guard too.
Thankfully there are tools out there to help both parents and teens. We have been utilizing the Mercury Insurance Drive Safe Challenge, an interactive website that provides teens with detailed safety instruction as well as gives parents tools to shape responsible driving behavior. The site features:
- Teen driving statistics
- Car-buying and insurance tips
- Informative road sign quizzes
- A driving contract that parents and teens can sign to set the rules of the road and outline the circumstances under which driving privileges would be lost.
- A comprehensive breakdown of Graduated Driver’s License Laws by State
- The most affordable and safest vehicles for teens to insure and additional resources
The most important thing we’ve learned along this journey is that this isn’t a one and done kind of lesson. This is something we have to talk about all the time. Something that both she and I need to think about often to make sure we’re both doing all that we can to keep everyone safe. I plan on going back to the Mercury Insurance Drive Safe Challenge many times with her to make sure that we’re doing our best to ensure that she has a positive and safe driving experience.