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Summer means new experiences for teen restricted drivers
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During the school term, your restricted driver most likely sticks to a regular route. No doubt they're pretty experienced at it.
But summer is here, and with it come a host of different driving experiences like unfamiliar roads, varied weather and traffic conditions, and longer solo trips.
It can be a stressful time for teens and an equally anxious time for parents-and rightly so. "Drivers are more likely to crash on their restricted than at any other time in their lives," says [Ernst Zollner, Director of Road Safety]. "There's good news though, reducing the risk is as simple as parents staying involved and sharing their driving experience."
If your teen plans to embark on a longer solo drive this summer, it's a good idea to reassess their driving in the weeks leading up to it. You did this while they were learning to drive. Now it's time to check their progress.
That means assessing all the important stuff like road position, speed and their ability to spot and react to hazards and changing weather conditions. Do they slow down in the rain, for instance?
It's a lot to look out for. The trick is not to make it feel like an exam. School's out, the last thing they want is a lecture or a lesson. Instead, give it another function. Ask them to run you down to the shops to pick up tea or to drop you off when you're heading out for the evening. Use this time to watch how they drive and offer them friendly pointers.
The more driving you and your teen can experience together the better prepared they'll be. Keep an eye out for opportunities. For instance, is your family off on holiday this summer? If so, why not share the driving? It's a good chance for your teen to get used to spending long stretches of time on the open road, while you're there to supervise them.
As the day of your teen's long solo drive approaches, focus on preparation. Talk with them about the dangers of driving tired and distractions like loud music, gadgets and food. Go over their route and point out potential rest stops and places to grab a snack. If your teen is well rested, they're less likely to make bad driving decisions. Finally, remind them about the obligations of their restricted license: no driving between the hours of 10pm and 5am, no passengers* and no alcohol.
With your preparation done, there's nothing left to do but kick back and enjoy your summer break.
*(with some exception see nzta.govt.nz)