As seasoned drivers, we adults face the many risks and surprises we encounter on the road in stride. We are experienced and know how to handle them. Most of the time driving is a completely ‘normal’ experience, but even for us there can be an occasional tricky situation that challenges our skills.
These ‘normal’ – and certainly the ‘tricky – situations on the road pose a level of challenge to teen drivers that can sometimes be too much for them to manage. Statistics speak clearly on this point: 8 teens a day lose their lives and an additional 700+ a day are injured behind the wheel.
This is because teen drivers lack driving experience and, as a result, are prone to make risky decisions. Let’s take a look at the five top reasons your teen is likely to make poor decisions in the early years of driving:
- Your teen lacks skills behind the wheel.
Practice and experience is what continuously develops the brain and forms habits. We do this to perfect all different skills throughout our lifetimes. When it comes to one of the most dangerous daily activities, this is no different. Teens do not have the years of driving experience that form the necessary skills it takes to make quick and safe judgment calls behind the wheel. Over time they develop, but in the early years of driving their lack of skills and experience can place them in dangerous situations that experienced drivers can avoid.
- Your teen has more confidence than skill.
More confidence than skill equals risk. Teens have very high impulsivity rates because their brains literally have not fully developed yet. One form of impulsivity – sensation seeking – is at an all time high during adolescence. This leads teens to poor judgment and a lack of risk assessment. The results can be catastrophic.
- Your teen lacks focus.
The distractions in society today are far too many to count and growing at an exponential rate. Most teens have long established habits of constantly seeking stimulus from their phones, social channels, music, friends, etc. This lack of focus – coupled with lack of experience behind the wheel – pose a challenge for them to be present when it comes to driving.
- Your teen needs more sleep than you do.
Studies show that on average teens need 9 hours of sleep to be functioning at their normal capacity. With the ever increasing busy schedules of teens, this can be difficult to accomplish. With school, extracurricular activities and social functions, teens are on average getting 6.5-7 hours of sleep a night. This in turn contributes to a lack of alertness and focus while on the road, further compounding their lack of skill and experience.
- You have too much confidence in the situation.
Drivers Education is an essential first step toward getting your teen off on the right path. However, it gives both you – and your teen – a false sense of readiness for the road. No doubt your confidence and trust in your teen are bedrock factors in growing a healthy relationship with them. However, Drivers Ed equips your teen with about 36 hours of instructional classroom time and 14 hours on the road. That’s not nearly enough experience to be prepared for situations that can and will occur on the road.
For information on an app that can help your teen from safe driving habits, please visit ridebeside.com. On this site you will also find a Teen Driver Contract and other resources you can use to help team with your teen in these early and risky days of driving.