As with many things, lecturing students about safe driving is hardly effective. That includes quoting ‘shocking statistics’ about teens and car accidents by the way. So what can you do to promote safe driving to your students?
Set a good example
While teens may look to their parents first, your driving habits matter as well. Don’t just drive safely when you have teens in your car, make it a habit all the time. You’re just as vulnerable as they are!
Help parents become aware of their example when it comes to safe driving. Lecturing won’t get you very far here either, but a gentle reminder every now and then that parents still are the most important influence in students’ lives—including in setting an example in driving—may help parents stay aware of their roles.
Informing parents about the biggest issues when it comes to teens driving safely could help them influence their kids as well. Distractions are a huge problem. 11% of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in a fatal crash was reportedly distracted at the time of the crash.
Here are some notorious distractions:
- Cell phone use is a biggie of course. Texting is still an issue. No wonder, when a study showed that 91% of teens say they’ve seen their parents using a cell phone while driving and 59% have seen their parents texting while driving.(1) And did you know that there are apps parents can install on their kids’ phones (or their own!) that prevent from using a cell phone while driving (you can still call 911 by the way).
- Passengers are another distraction teens have trouble handling well. Nearly 40% of 16- and 17-year olds killed in car crashes had at least one passenger under 21—and no older passengers (source). Some states have restricted the number of passengers young drivers can take, but if that’s not the case, let parents know this is an effective method.
- Eating behind the wheel also causes accidents, as drivers are distracted by leaking sauces from their burgers, or spilled drinks. Again, parents (and youth leaders) need to set the right example here.
Two other known causes include speeding and bad weather. The first one is self-evident, though it might be good to remind parents. Also, how much experience do students have driving on interstates? Can they cope driving safely at 65 MpH, changing lanes, entering, and exiting?
Many teens have not been taught to drive in bad weather, like heavy rainfall or snowstorms. This is even something you could make an event of if you have a bigger ministry: get a specialty course especially for your students, for instance on slipping and emergency braking.
But after all this info for parents, let’s get back to you. Now that you’ve read all this, how good an example are you?
I got into an accident once with one of my students in the car. Though the other driver was speeding on a parking lot, I wasn’t paying enough attention—distracted as I was by talking to this student. And I had over 15 years of driving experience at the time! That little fender bender taught me a valuable lesson…
Drive safely people. Lives depend on it, more than we sometimes realize.