Drive as I Say, Not as I Do

Are You The Reason For Your Teen’s Bad Driving Habits?

Monkey See, Moneky Do

As a parent of a new teen driver, your hopes are that they learn proper defensive driving techniques, while you continue to drill in the “Do’s and Don’ts” of the road, as well as bringing about safety awareness. However, what we fail to realize is that our teenagers are soaking up these life-long lessons by mimicking that in which they see, most times, that which is you! Adult drivers holding on to bad driving habits are complacent, and might not keep up with recent changes in the law. But don’t knock yourself down just yet. In most cases, adults aren’t even aware of these bad driving habits which in turn impact their teens without even realizing the reason behind it.

The most common mistake among adult drivers is thinking you know it all. Because of the experience and the amount of years behind the wheel, most adults feel as if they are immune from any danger on the road. This could not be further from reality. Truth be told, accidents occur, and even if you have never been in or caused an accident before, it could still happen to you, perhaps caused by the at-fault novice driver.

Another mistake teens see their parents doing while behind the wheel is failing to use blinkers for signaling. We don’t need to get into the specifics on just how dangerous not signaling can be, despite its simplicity and readily accessible location, but let’s just say that it should be one of the most used features on your vehicle and without it not only causes much confusing, but a lot of collisions as well. I mean how exactly do you expect to teach your children the proper way to drive, when you yourself is not obeying a traffic law as simple as this?

According to CNN, a survey of over 1,700 teens admitted that they had performed risky activities, such as speeding, talking or texting on their cell phones, or not wearing their seat belts while operating a motor vehicle. The study also found that more than half of those teenage drivers had observed their parents engaging in similar behaviors while driving. Dave Melton, a driving safety expert with Liberty Mutual, stated that, “These findings highlight the need for parents to realize how their teens perceive their actions.” He also added, “Your kids are always observing the decisions you make behind the wheel, and in fact have likely been doing so since they were big enough to see over the dashboard…You may think you only occasionally read a text at a stop light or take the odd thirty-second phone call, but kids are seeing that in a different way. Answering your phone once while driving, even if only for a few seconds, legitimizes the action for your children and they will, in turn, see that as acceptable behavior.”

Out of the 94% of teenage drivers who admitted to speeding, 88% claimed that they had witnessed their parents breaking the speed limit before. According to a survey conducted by Writer Suzanne Kate, 91% of teenagers said they had witnessed their parents talking on a cell phone while driving, with 78% confessing that they had texted while driving, while 59% of parents reportedly had done so. Shockingly, adults were more likely than their children to not wear seatbelts.

Bottom line, teens who engage in dangerous driving most likely learned their bad driving skills from their parents. Parents, not only is it your ultimate duty, but it is imperative that as adults you demonstrate good driving behavior from the very beginning so that new drivers understand that safe driving rules apply to everyone equally. It’s time to make a change. It starts with you! Your teen’s life just might depend on it.