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Why teens need to be ‘judgmental’ drivers

Safe driving requires good judgment. That can be a frightening realization for parents helping their teens learn to drive at a time in their life when their judgment may be flawed at best. However, as drivers, we have to be able to size up situations and react at a moment’s notice.

Most parents teach their kids not to judge people based on first impressions. However, when they’re behind the wheel, they need to do just that. A first impression may be their only warning that they need to stay away from another driver.

New drivers (and all of us) need to watch what other drivers are doing. Student drivers are taught to be constantly scanning the road. When they see a driver who’s drifting between lanes, doesn’t have their eyes on the road, is speeding or is slow to respond to a traffic light change, they should assume that they’re not paying attention or may be impaired. Either way, they need to keep their distance.

If a driver seems to be in a hurry and is acting irresponsibly or aggressively, stay away from them. These drivers are easy to spot because they’re often tailgating, moving in and out of lanes to try to get ahead of everyone else and/or honking.

Judging common, yet stressful, traffic situations is also something that teen drivers need to learn to do. The more experience they get, the better they’ll be at it. However, they should err on the side of caution.

For example, maybe they need to get from the far left to the far right lane of a busy highway to reach their exit. They have to determine whether they can do so safely. This depends not just on their skills, but on whether the other drivers will let them in. They should know that it’s okay to miss your exit and go back rather than risk getting across multiple lanes quickly. Another important lesson is that it’s wise be in a lane where they can easily exit in plenty of time to do so.

Even if your young driver does everything right, they can still fall victim to a careless or reckless driver. If they’re injured in a crash, don’t let them take the blame for something that wasn’t their fault, and make sure you get the compensation you need and deserve for medical bills and other expenses.

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