Car crashes kill more young people than any other cause, accounting for nearly half of all teen deaths in America each year.  The time will come when the teenager will ask for the keys to the car. You want to know that you have provided all the tools you can for keeping your teenage driver safe. Start early in preparing for that driving day.

Create a dialogue about driving. Use current news stories, events on the road and even questions to talk about driving situations and how to handle them. If something makes you angry while driving and the kids in the car, tell them what happened so that they learn to be defensive drivers.  Give your teenager a chance to share ideas, stories and thoughts without interruption. Work together to expand the ideas into actions that would work in real life situations.

Staying cool as a copilot.  Put in the practice before taking the solo wheel. Pilots are required to do a certain number of hours before they get their first chance at a solo flight. Put that same requirement before you teenager and then be willing to let them get behind the wheel in order to fulfill that number. Start in an empty parking lot, or with pulling in and out of the driveway.  Choose times when traffic is not as hectic – which may require going for a drive even when you have no place in particular to go.

Sign up for a class. All parents are not made to teach their own children. It may be a good idea to consider investing in driving classes that will give your teenager the skills needed to be confident and safe behind the wheel of a car. An added bonus to taking these classes is that most insurance companies will offer a deduction for passing driving classes (a tremendous help considering premiums on teenagers can be so expensive).

Practice what you preach. Preparing teenagers to drive requires driving in a way that you want your teenager to emulate. When you’re teaching your teen how to drive, they presume you know what you’re talking about. Be their example of excellent driving. Do you adhere to the rules even when no one is looking? Do you go ballistic when someone cuts you off? Do you keep your calm when faced with a road accident? Teens see your driving behavior and they remember. Be the better driver, and they will too.

Go beyond the manual. The internet provides a new avenue for finding information. Give your teenager a task for finding out ways to prevent accidents in different situations. Ask them to research the most dangerous issues facing teenage drivers. Talk to them in detail about what they find and how that information can be put into practice when driving.

It costs money.  Showing your teens the money spent on gas, car maintenance and insurance will teach them that driving costs money. Teaching them financial responsibility is a lesson in itself, but allowing them to see the everyday expenses reinforces the importance of being a safe driver, and caring for their cars.

Set up your own rules. Part of teaching your teen how to drive is implanting responsibility and discipline. If they get bad grades in school, or if they take the car without asking permission, suspend their driving privileges. Get your teenager engaged in the process so the teenage driver has an investment in the process.  Create a contract with your teenager so they know ahead of time what the consequences are beforehand.  Sample Driving Contract
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