Having a teen driver in the house can be a nerve-wracking experience; every time your teen gets behind the wheel, you worry for their safety. This is not necessarily because of their own behaviors, but because of the behavior of other drivers. It’s not an unfounded fear: Road rage incidents are up across the U.S. In fact, a survey from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found half of the drivers it surveyed reported they’d driven aggressively at some point, and 60 percent of drivers say they’ve felt threatened by road rage behavior.
Once your teen has that coveted license, it’s more important than ever to talk with your teen driver about aggressive driving and how to respond to other drivers to avoid road rage incidents that can cause accidents, injury and even death. Here are a few important tips from DMV websites across the country:
- Avoid distractions. Everyone knows you shouldn’t text and drive, but there are other things that can also cause distractions, like eating or drinking, passengers who are loud or boisterous, looking at a GPS, or even glancing down to change the radio station. Teach your teen that when they’re behind the wheel, they should remain 100 percent focused on the road and keep both hands on the wheel.
- Leave early. If you’re worried about being late, you’re much more likely to speed, weave in and out of traffic, tailgate and engage in other types of aggressive and risky behaviors.
- Avoid making gestures. You may feel justified in giving someone the middle finger, but it’s a sure way to escalate things to the next level. Keep your hands on the wheel, and if someone makes a gesture at you, ignore it and take a few deep breaths to relax.
- Don’t make eye contact. If someone yells at you or tries to start a fight, don’t acknowledge them by looking at them; instead, look straight ahead and move out of their way.
- Go easy on the horn. Don’t lay on the horn just because the driver in front of you doesn’t speed off the moment the light turns green. One little horn honk can be all it takes to push an angry driver over the edge into full-blown road rage.
- Know when to seek help. If a driver becomes persistently aggressive even after you try to stay out of their way, head to a police station or ask a passenger to call 911.
- Watch your own behavior. If you feel yourself becoming stressed out or angry, pull off the road to a safe place and calm down before heading back out.
- Keep your head. Above all, remember: This is your safety and your life. A few moments of anger and retaliation is all it takes to put your life and the lives of your passengers in serious jeopardy, so keep things in perspective, focus on your own safety and well-being and keep your cool.
Want more tips on how to talk to your teen about aggressive driving? Check out the California DMV website.