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Taming Temperamental Teens

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Teens tend to be rash and emotional; hence, it’s a good idea to allow them behind the wheel only after you have taken the steps to instil good driving behaviour in them.

In Singapore, the minimum legal age for acquiring a driving licence is 18. Your adolescent, in all probability, can’t wait to achieve this milestone and get behind the wheel of a car. Unfortunately, teenagers are known for taking risks, which can leave parents biting their nails in despair. Instead of worrying yourself silly every time they take to the wheel, here are some strategies you can employ to steer them in the right direction.

Don’t wait for your child to get his driving licence before inculcating good driving behaviours in him or her. This should literally start from the time your child is placed in a car seat. A survey by SafeKids Worldwide of teen drivers and their parents showed that — when it came to seatbelt use, distracted driving (using mobile phones, eating/drinking, grooming, etc), intoxicated driving, and speeding — teens were more likely to report engaging in risky behaviour if they had first witnessed their parents doing so. Similarly, they were more likely to adopt safe habits if their parents mirrored such behaviour

Young children are like sponges, absorbing whatever they see around them. You’d be surprised at how much they learn just from observing you. So be a good role model for them when it comes to driving behaviour.

Don’t let them drive a sports car or convertible — these are not good matches for first-time drivers, as such vehicles don’t allow much room for error. Instead, get a good-sized, safe vehicle with advanced safety technology for your teen to drive, preferably a mid-sized car.

When they first start to drive, teens should confine their driving to the day. This is because visibility is lower at night. Also, nighttime driving tends to be for recreational purposes, which could result in irresponsible driving.

Continuing to go on frequent drives with your son or daughter helps you keep an eye on whether they are practising safe driving. If you spot them getting careless about safety measures, you can then put them back on track. Don’t forget to praise them for their right actions as well

In the initial stages, if your teen needs to drive solo without you riding shotgun, it’s best that they avoid taking passengers. This is because having passengers in the car can be distracting, and that may take the driver’s focus off the road, especially when the passengers are pals who enjoy kidding around.

Setting up an agreement with your teen — preferably a written one — helps prevent risky driving behaviour. Rules to include in the document:

  • how late and how far your teenager can drive
  • a promise to always wear a seatbelt
  • following traffic rules and avoiding reckless behaviour, such as speeding, running red lights, and improper lane changes
  • a commitment never to drive while intoxicated or when feeling drowsy or angry

Note that laying out specific ground rules has been found to be more effective than airy-fairy advice such as “drive safely”. You may wish to use DriveSmart’s Parent-Teen agreement as a reference: http://kohlsdrivesmart.org/wp/download.php?download=agreement

AA Singapore is aware of the challenges that new and young drivers — as well as their parents — face.

AAS Insurance Agency (AAS-IA), a wholly-owned subsidiary of AA Singapore, offers Young or Inexperienced motor insurance just for these drivers. Developed in collaboration with Liberty Insurance, this policy is targeted at young drivers below the age of 24 or inexperienced drivers who have less than two years of driving experience. For more information, click here.

Meanwhile, AA Singapore’s training arm, AAS Academy, also provides a training course for young or new drivers. Called the Young or New Driver — Safe Driving Program, it is designed to help young or new drivers gain more knowledge and learn about the hazards of driving. Passing this course makes you eligible for discounts when you purchase the AA New Driver Insurance Policy! For more information, click here.

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