Is your teen driver a tortoise or a roadrunner?

Is your teen driver a tortoise or a roadrunner?

When it comes to new drivers, teens usually fall into two categories: those who are overly cautious (tortoises) and those who are overly confident (roadrunners). I have two sons who recently learned to drive (and I survived, so you will too!). One was a speedster, while the other was a bit of a turtle on the road. Just like no two kids are alike, no two teen drivers are alike. It’s up to you, the concerned parent, to speed up the learning process and install confidence (for tortoises) or put the brakes on your way-too-confident roadrunner driver.

Tortoise: The Overly Cautious Teen Driver
In Aesop’s Fables, the tortoise’s slow progress prevailed over the hare’s ingenuity and trickery. However, when it comes to learning to drive, your tortoise driver may be too overly cautious. She might be a bit fearful of driving on the road. This is completely natural! Driving a two-ton automobile down an unfamiliar highway or road could cause of bit of anxiety even among experienced drivers. On the other hand, if your teen drives ten or more miles below the speed limit, this could be a problem resulting from a lack of self-confidence.

The key to helping your tortoise driver overcome anxieties is practice. Practice. Practice! Driving is a complex skill that must be practiced to be learned well. At every copportunity, hop in the passenger seat and go for a ride with your teen driver. Don’t gasp at every stop or turn. Don’t repeat “Speed up!” ten times during your ride. The more your tortoise actually drives, the higher her confidence level will rise. So will her speed over time. You don’t want a roadrunner, but you do want a confident, practiced driver that will ultimately become a lifelong safe driver on the road.  With practice, your tortoise will no longer be afraid to practice what we preach at Drive Smart Georgia.

Roadrunner: The Overly Confident Teen Driver
While you may not want a tortoise, having a roadrunner teen driver can certainly cause premature grey hairs and many sleepless nights. Overly confident drivers go into overdrive without hesitation and push limits. Boys tend to fall into the roadrunner category, which is why they’re more costly to insure than females. However, some girls may also fall into this dangerous category. Overly confident drivers plus newfound freedom can add up to a recipe for disaster. So, what’s a concerned parent to do?

There are proven methods for helping roadrunners become safer, slower drivers. The most critical keys are parental supervision, the adherence of regulations, and consequences for not following them.

Below are some examples of safety rules for both tortoises and roadrunners:

  • Check in with a parent every time a teen drives.
  • Do not take unnecessary risks while driving.
  • Obey all traffic laws, signs and speed limits.

Examples of violations and consequences include:

  • Speeding ticket – Lose driving privileges for two months.
  • Using cell phone while driving. Lose driving privileges for two weeks.
  • Didn’t make all passengers wear seat belts. Lose privileges for one month.
  • Lied about where going with car. Lose driving privileges for one month.
  • Coming home late without calling. Lose driving privileges for two weeks.
  • Too many passengers in the car. Lose driving privileges for one month.
  • Used alcohol or drugs before driving. Lose driving privileges for three months.

So, buckle up, parents. Whether your teen’s journey is slow or speedy, it’s definitely worth taking the time to teach and preach. With parental involvement and the proper training, your tortoise or roadrunner can and will learn lifelong good driving habits. It’s just a matter of time and practice!


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