Parents may feel that they rate low in importance to their teens – after social media, friends, sports, and homework. This is not the case. Teens need their parents more than ever as they approach adulthood, especially in helping them avoid risky behaviors.
Teens have been watching their parents’ every move since sitting in their car seat to their recent move to the driver’s seat. If parents model dangerous behaviors while driving, it will be very hard to convince teens not to follow their lead. Parents need to model safe driving and riding behaviors at all times.
Parents can start being role models in road safety by setting and following house rules and always leading by example. This includes not calling or texting teens while they are driving. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia researchers found that teen drivers receive the most calls from their parents, more than general calling patterns would suggest.
Parents should model these safe behaviors:
- No cell phone use while driving – whether hands-free or hand-held – including at stoplights.
- Do not speed.
- Always wear a seat belt, as a driver and as a passenger.
- Know directions to the destination before turning on the car engine.
- Refrain from road rage.
- Do not drive while impaired (drugged, drunk, or drowsy).
- Do not apply makeup, eat, or fiddle with the radio or CD player while driving.
- Do not tailgate.
- Be a good passenger – show respect for the driver and do not distract.
Parents need to know that it’s never too late to change unsafe behaviors. It will be worth the effort. Teens need role models, especially for road safety.