28346001 - family sitting in the car looking out windowsParents are the most powerful teachers and influencers in their children’s lives. Your actions and words make a real impact in the people your kids become, not just with life skills, but also morally, ethically, and interpersonally.

Most parents accept this role and understand the massive responsibility behind it — and, for the most part, succeed in instilling values along with practical knowledge. Yet, one area they often fail their kids is with driving. Sure, parents may teach their kids how to drive, but they fall short in showing what being a safe, respectful driver is like.

Of course, this isn’t often intentional. But think about some driving behaviors you may exhibit with your children in the car:

  • Speeding up for yellow lights
  • Ignoring stop signs
  • Weaving in and out of traffic because you are in a hurry
  • Honking, yelling, and offering obscene gestures to other drivers, as well as cyclists and pedestrians
  • Being disrespectful to a police officer after being pulled over
  • Using your smartphone while operating a motor vehicle

Understandably, otherwise good people become less perfect versions of themselves while driving. However, when you are screaming at others at traffic or texting while driving, you send a message to your children—even younger children who are years away from getting their licenses—that this sort of behavior is acceptable behind the wheel. Kids subtly learn this, no matter what you tell them later or what they’re taught it driver’s ed, and apply that to their own driving.

Obviously, that’s not the message you want to pass along. Although you should be a safe driver at all times, be particularly diligent when your children are in the car with you. Model good behavior, put your phone away (don’t even look at it at stop lights), and be respectful of other drivers. The example you set today can save your child’s life years later.

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