(Editor’s note: Last week was Teen Driver Awareness Safety Week. Click here to to see what people said about the DASHBoard Road Safety Kick-off Event on October 25.)
I know what it’s like to be in the car with a teen driver and at times it can be terrifying and quite stressful. It was just a year ago that my own 16 year old was staring longingly at the keys to the family van; the same van he was horrified to be seen in just a year ago.
Luckily, I’ve gotten to show my son a thing or two from the Girl Scouts DASHboard Road Safety program sponsored by GEICO. This program prepares both teens and parents for the responsibility of new drivers on the road. In addition to understanding the basic rules of driver safety, DASHBoard also looks at car maintenance and small ways you can make your own car a little more environmentally friendly (like making sure your tire pressure is correctly gauged).
With my son’s drivers permit in hand, we take to the roads on weekends to practice, and sometimes I clench my teeth so tight I think my jaw will never recover. For my son, however, the message about not texting while driving has made an impression; I receive a quiet look of disapproval when he sees me pick up my Blackberry at red lights.
Here are some ways you can help your younger driver stay safe:
- Take an active role in this learning process, and share your years of experience and driving know-how by teaching your teen how to drive.
- New drivers learn a lot by example, so practice safe driving at all times. Do not send mixed signals on safety.
- Inexperience is the number one contributing factor to unsafe and potentially hazardous driving situations. Supervised practice should be spread over at least six months and continue even after your teen graduates from a learner’s permit to a restricted or full license. Plan a series of practice sessions in a wide variety of situations, including night driving. Give her time to work up to challenges like driving in heavy traffic or on the highway.
- Talk to your teen honestly and openly about the family rules for driving, consequences for poor driving behavior, drinking and driving, wearing a seat belt (all passengers need to wear them as well), curfew and other road safety concerns.
Studies clearly show that caring adults who monitor when, how often and under what conditions their teens drive or ride as a passenger, create safer teen drivers. One great way to facilitate this monitoring process is to establish a driving contract or agreement with your teen. Through the DASHboard Road Safety program, your Girl Scout Cadette, Senior or Ambassador will be creating and signing an Honor Code that covers her commitment to safety in the driver’s seat, in the passenger seat and as a pedestrian.
Our girls are on the move—don’t you want it to be in the right direction?
For more information on the Geico DASHboard Road Safety program and events, visit www.gscnc.org.