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Is your teen getting too confident in his or her driving?

For many young people, getting a driver's license is a sign that adulthood is not far off. With a license and a vehicle, teens have more independence than ever before. Often, parents appreciate this freedom too, as teens can help with transporting younger siblings and doing errands.

One interesting thing, though, is that quite a few teen drivers become overconfident in their driving abilities or just plain careless about driving. They start their journey toward having a driver's license with caution, following speed limits, staying off their cellphones and parking away from other vehicles. Given enough time, perhaps even just months, they transform into drivers who chat on their cellphones and text. If this sounds like something that has happened to your teen or could potentially happen, what can you do about it?

Model good driving behavior

Consciously and subconsciously, children learn from their parents. If you drive distracted, that signals to your teen that doing so is okay and safe. So, one of the best things you can do is to stay off the cellphone and to follow other good-driver practices such as always buckling up and having your passengers do so.

Explain the situation

It is fine, a good idea even, to come right out and explain that once teens have a few months behind the wheel, they become "lazy." You can show them the article linked to here, and tell your teen that while you trust him or her, this kind of behavior can occur quickly and naturally with no one realizing it. Reinforce rules that have been set up such as driving without cellphones and alcohol, driving in good weather only and driving with a limited number of passengers.

Give the teen a stake

Another approach is for the teen to have a personal stake in the matter. For example, if it is your car that gets wrecked, you pay for it, more or less. However, if it is a car that the teen has saved up for, if only partially, he or she may be less likely to engage in risky behaviors. 

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