By Colleen Benzin | Managing Director, Apparent Insurance
So many things about our lives right now aren’t “normal,” and we’re all learning how to adjust. But social distancing also offers us opportunities to build new skills and focus our attention on a handful of activities—and one is teaching your teen to be a responsible driver. With roads less busy than usual, now’s the time to practice good habits and prepare for the “what if” scenarios.
Teach them to ignore distractions
When you’re a parent of a teen and it comes time for them to start driving, you’re often so worried about them learning skills like merging properly and remembering to check their rear-view mirror, it’s easy to forget to warn them against one of the biggest road risks—distracted driving.
When we think “distracted driving”, our minds often jump to the most currently discussed distraction—texting and driving. But there’s so much more to it than just texting, including things that many drivers do on a regular basis without realizing they’re distracting themselves. The brain is only capable of performing one task at a time, so when we think we’re “multitasking”, all we’re doing is quickly switching from one task to the other. That’s why literally anything that takes your attention from the road is a form of distracted driving.
You can help keep your teen driver safe and focused on the road by doing these four simple things:
- When You Do Talk, Try Not to Lecture: It’s not just teens, it’s human nature—we don’t like to be nagged or pressured into doing something, even if it’s the right thing. Try to keep your conversations about distracted driving short, conversational, and frequent.
- Be Their Role Model: If you want your teen to be a responsible driver, it’s important to set the example for how they should behave behind the wheel. It’s good to set aside time to take them on practice sessions to ensure they’re instilling habits to keep themselves distraction-free on the road.
- Make Safe Driving Fun: Try to instill good behaviors by using rewards. Maybe every time you catch each other engaging in distracted driving, the perpetrator has to put a dollar in a jar that goes toward a safe driving foundation. Eye-catching reminders like a painted red nail or a red string tied on the wheel can help remind them of the promises they’ve made to drive responsibly.
- Utilize Technology: There are so many great apps and devices you and your teen can use to reinforce good driving habits. Apps like Bouncie, which is a feature Apparent Insurance offers, will let you know things like if your teen is braking too hard or driving too fast, which may be signs they’re driving distracted. Additionally, many smartphones have built-in features you can activate to stay focused behind the wheel.
Prepare them for an accident
Although we all wish accidents didn’t happen, it’s important for teens to know what to do both immediately and in the days after an accident. Here’s a checklist to share with your teen driver in case of an accident:
- Get in a safe place—move the car to the shoulder of the road or a nearby parking lot and turn on the hazards.
- Turn off the vehicle.
- Check on others to make sure no one is in need of immediate medical assistance.
- Call the police, even if it’s a minor fender bender.
- Document the scene of the accident and take photos with a phone.
- Exchange information with the other driver: driver/passenger names, contact info, license plate numbers, insurance info, and vehicle make/model.
- Do not discuss fault with the other party.
- Contact the auto insurance company as soon as possible.
- Later that day, write down everything that happened and store it in an easy-to-remember location.
- As time goes on, start a file of all documentation and correspondence, and keep everything in one place.
The bottom line
Driving can be stressful, no matter how long you’ve been doing it. Even though your teen might be excited to learn to drive, they might also be nervous. And even though you might be feeling some pressure, Apparent Insurance is there to help put your mind at ease with unique features for teen drivers and parents of teens—after all, the auto insurance company was designed by parents for parents. So, take a deep breath, buckle up, and remember—you’ve got this, and Apparent has got you!
Adding a teen driver to your policy is a great time to review your policy and to shop around to make sure you’re getting the best rate. Check out ApparentInsurance.com to get a quote and learn about the features designed just for families and your teen driver.