Once you’ve seen all the Twilight movies, you pretty much know what life’s about, from a teen’s point of view at least. Assuming your teen is not a vampire or werewolf, you have your work cut out for you when it comes to convincing your kid that the freedom they feel behind the wheel isn’t always going to be chill. It may take some convincing — assuming you can get them to put down their smart phone for a nano-second and listen — to get your teen to hear what you have to say when it comes to the dangers of the road, but it’s a lesson that just might be a lifesaver.
“I Want to Learn How to Drive”
You hum and haw and try to divert your teen’s attention with the promise of more cell phone minutes or tickets to the next Nicki Minaj concert when you first hear those words, but eventually you give in. You have to; you can’t cart him and his friends around forever and besides you think, maybe the privilege of driving will inspire responsibility in him.
Your teen’s first experience with driving is likely to be going to and from school. This is a great place to start emphasizing safety.
- Arrive Early, Leave Late – Convincing your teen to arrive early to school and leave a little later isn’t going to be easy, but this helps avoid the usual parking lot congestion that occurs at these times.
- Park with Easy Access – A parking spot should be chosen based on the ability to get in and out as easily as possible. And no, the teacher’s parking lot is not an option.
- Don’t Leave Stuff in the Car – A car is not meant to be an extension of your teen’s bedroom. Valuables such as jackets, wallets, and any of the various electronic devices your teen carries so he won’t miss a status update should be either kept out of sight or just not left in the car in the first place.
Hitting the Road
Once your teen masters going to and from school without any major incidents, the next step is getting out and about around town. The basic tips for driving to the local pizza place generally apply to driving anywhere, so letting your teen drive around town just might offer some valuable lessons – assuming they’re paying attention.
- Avoid Left-hand Turns – It takes a while to master the skill of gauging oncoming traffic. Stick to intersections with traffic lights.
- Don’t Assume – Patience isn’t a virtue for many teens, so don’t make assumptions about what other drivers will do, even those with their turn signal on.
- Pay Attention – Traffic signs and posted warnings aren’t just there to hold concert posters. Signs warning you to “Slow down” or “Proceed with Caution” mean just what they say.
- Don’t Instigate – Avoid the temptation to do anything that will enrage the driver in front of, behind, or beside you. Don’t let Fast and Furious driving turn into a Final Destination.
Teens today tend to be desensitized to blood and gore, unless it becomes a painful reality. There are plenty of stories about teens drinking and driving, texting and driving, or just being distracted by a car full of rowdy friends blasting music while in full party mode. Technology may have changed, but the ending of all these stories is usually the same. It’s going to take a lot of repetition and even some nagging, but safe driving is one lesson you want to hammer into your teen’s head, no matter how long it takes.
Karen Boyarsky is an advertising copywriter and a freelance blogger, and was once a teenage driver. If your teens are getting ready to start driving, she recommends looking into www.carinsurance.org.uk to find affordable car insurance for them.