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Strapping yourself into the passenger seat the first time your teenager takes the wheel is one of the scarier turning points of parenting.
Teen drivers are four times more likely to crash, on a per-mile basis, than older drivers, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. They are notorious for taking stupid risks and being overconfident about their driving ability.
But before you start lecturing your kid, take a look in the mirror. Many of the mistakes teen drivers make stem from things they learn from parents.
"You hear all kinds of crazy stuff," says Sharon Postigo Fife, president of
The Driving School Association of the Americas in Kettering, Ohio.
Here's some of the worst driving advice parents give their teenagers. (See "
Are American teens the worst trained drivers in the world?")
Do as I say, not as I do.
Telling your kid about the danger of texting and driving won't do any good if you pick up your cell phone while motoring down the highway.
"Parents say one thing, and then do something different," says Brandon Dufour, general manager of
All-Star Driver, a driving school headquartered in Watertown, Conn. "Starting at about age 11 or 12 your child is paying attention to your driving habits and noting consciously or subconsciously all those things you do ."
Two-thirds of surveyed teens say their parents live by different driving rules than the ones they expect their kids to follow, according to research in 2012 by
Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions. Ninety-one percent reported seeing their parents talk on a cell phone while driving, 88 percent observed their parents speeding and 59 percent said their parents have sent text messages while driving.
"Kids figure, 'If Mom can do it, I can do it,'" Dufour says.
It's OK to speed a little.
Brad Ault, president of the
Florida Professional Driving School Association and
Ault's Driver Education Center in Englewood, Fla., says he hears parents tell teens it's all right to drive 5 mph over the speed limit because "everybody does it."
But they should teach their kids to obey the speed limit and to drive according to conditions. Too many drivers don't slow down when the weather is bad.