Saturday, July 20, 2013

Special Education Saturday - Making Teens Better Drivers (and Ourselves!)

Parenting is full of terrifying moments. One of the most petrifying is the first time your child takes the family vehicle out alone. Here are a few tips to improve their driving skills, including some you can start when they are very young:

  • Practice meditation as a family. The ability to perform mindfulness meditation improves your multitasking skills, which are required for safe driving. 
  • Have them place their cellphone in the trunk before leaving. Even hands-free phone calls create a risk of inattention at the same level as handheld use. If it's in the glove box, the device is still accessible, but to get into the trunk, the car will have to stop. 
  • Give them lots of chances to drive with you in the car. Yes, this is hard on both parental blood pressure and bumper, but the more they practice, the better the brain training and automatic reactions. 
  • Get everyone together to do some yoga. These kinds of activities help visual perception, which makes it easier to look for environmental cues that help with accident avoidance. 
  • Tell them others are terrible drivers. Studies have shown that 10% of drivers on the road at any time are seriously distracted. Scary, right? Have them assume that those approaching don't see you, won't stop at the light, or will make another mistake. I drop way back when I see a car swerving or moving erratically. This gives them extra opportunities to avoid the upcoming crash. 
By the way, the above tips can also improve the driving of adults. 

What are your best tips for teen drivers?