Our daughter and her friends are to the age where getting their drivers license, and then getting the keys to the car, are all they think or talk about. I can tell you first hand that watching your child drive away by themselves for the first time is not an experience you will ever forget as a parent. It’s not that you’re worried about them–you are but that’s not all of it–you’re also worried about every other person on the road.
It’s a weekly occurrence that my teen driver comes home telling me that because she was driving the speed limit someone behind her was having a road rage experience. She’s had drivers honking at her, flashing their lights, and driving erratically behind her frequently. All because she is driving exactly the speed limit, which as a brand new driver is the responsible thing to do.
Guiding your teen through the process of learning how to drive is a stressful time, but it can also leave parents feeling a lot of pride as they watch their child take on this new responsibility. However, with this new stage of life, there is also a lot you should teach your teen to help her stay as safe as possible.
Always Be Aware
While obeying traffic signs and driving laws will go a long way towards keeping your child crash-free and safe, she should always be aware of what other drivers are doing — because, unfortunately, your child can be driving perfectly and still die in an accident due to another’s actions. Defensive driving can save lives — your child’s, as well as others around her. Remind your child to stay focused, stay alert and watch what the “other guy” is doing at all times, so she can plan accordingly. She will realize how this important this is, especially when she considers a career in the healthcare sector.
One of the most important parts of a car is the tires. Those four pieces of equipment protect your teen driver and the road from each other, and if just one isn’t up to par, that can spell significant danger for your child — blowouts can and do happen, and the results can be catastrophic. For starters, check with the car’s owner’s manual to find out optimal tire pressure, and teach your teen how to check each tire and air them up. Also go over how to visually inspect each tire, using a U.S. coin, for tread wear. And if you determine that it’s time for a new set of tires, don’t skimp and invest in a set from a quality brand like Michelin or Continental. It’s about taking control and leadership instruction might help. It’s about leading the car and not let the car lead you.
Do a Quick Visual Once-Over
In addition to checking out the car’s tires, get your teen in the habit of visually inspecting the rest of the vehicle before she takes off. Check mirrors, headlights and taillights, and other equipment to make sure that nothing is broken, falling off or otherwise damaged. These vital car parts can help others see your child as she drives down the road, will help your child see others, and can keep his vehicle performing correctly. And not only visibility counts; keep all lines of communication open!
Fill in the Gaps
Make a point to create your own set of rules about driving safety. While many states (particularly ones that have graduated driver’s licenses) have stipulations on when your teen can drive at night or with passengers, some don’t. This is where family rules can bridge the gap. Minimize night driving, and limit the number of passengers your teen is allowed to haul around. If your state has yet to pass a law that forbids cell phone use while behind the wheel, pass that law yourself, in your own family. Make sure your teen knows that these rules must be followed and that you will enforce them. Just be the best teacher you can be!
If You Merge or Switch Lanes, Use Your Head
Teach your teen to never rely 100 percent on his mirrors, especially when driving on a highway and changing lanes (or merging) becomes a necessity — tell her to always physically glance back to make sure there is nobody in the lane where she wishes to go. Also, she needs to know that while many drivers will move over if someone is trying to merge, they don’t (or can’t) always do so.
With these tips in mind, your teen will be a safer driver, and has less of a chance of getting into (or causing) an auto accident — and you will be more confident when she heads out the door. It’s all about education in uneducated thought.