As a parent of a new driver, it can be scary to watch as your teen drives off without you in the car with them for the first time. Partly because you aren’t sure how well they paid attention in driver’s ed, but mostly because you aren’t there to protect them and tell them when they aren’t using their best judgment.
Giving them some tips and wisdom yourself can help you find some reassurance that your teen has the knowledge they need to stay safe on the road. Below are 5 tips to share with the new driver in your household:
1. Respect the power of the machine you are operating
In driver’s ed, teens are taught all of the rules they must follow on the road, but one point that is not reiterated and really explained in depth is why those rules are so important in regards to the type of damage the heavy machine they are utilizing is capable of doing. Vehicles are a huge convenience for us and we often forget just how devastating misuse of them can be.
Thousands of people die every single day in a vehicle-related crash. The average car weighs roughly 4,000 lbs. That’s 4,000 pounds of metal going up against a man or woman of an average weight of 100–200 pounds; much less if it’s a child. Showing your teen videos of how fast car crashes can happen is a great idea to not only help them visualize the effects but tie their emotions into it. No one would ever want to inflict pain or even death on another person because of their own negligence.
2. Learn to anticipate other people’s actions
This is a skill that most people pick up with some experience behind the wheel, but it can be a good idea to explain to your teen, who has little to no driving experience, that you must pay attention to other drivers and how their road behavior can affect your safety. One example includes making eye contact with other drivers. If a driver is waiting to turn and they are not looking at or even towards you, then there is a chance that they are unaware that you are there and will make the turn regardless of your presence.
One example includes making eye contact with other drivers. If a driver is waiting to turn and they are not looking at or even towards you, then there is a chance that they are unaware that you are there and will make the turn regardless of your presence.
Another example is knowing when a driver is behaving in a manner that cannot be anticipated, i.e. they are either under the influence or extremely distracted and are swerving, going way below the speed limit, etc. In this scenario, your teen needs to be able to distinguish when it is in their best interest to either safely pass, stay far behind, or even take another route opposite of this unpredictable driver.
A last example is looking ahead of just the driver right in front of you. By not only keeping an eye on the driver directly ahead of them, but also looking onward at the rest of the traffic on the road, your teen will be able to anticipate how quickly people are stopping, a possible danger unfolding ahead, and so on.
3. Prepare for the unexpected
It’s always a good idea to be prepared for any type of accident or mishap, no matter how big or small. A few things your teen can do to stay prepared are to keep a disaster supply kit in their car (flashlight, contact list with phone numbers, snacks, water, flares, etc.), pay attention to the weather forecast to avoid driving in bad storms, not let their vehicle’s gas tank get below a certain amount (1/4 of a tank is a good rule), and always letting someone know where they’re going and when they plan to arrive (if something happens along the way, help can be sent along the predetermined route).
4. Drive without friends for a while
It’s no secret that teens tend to be distracted easily, but if you put multiple teens together, they tend to get extremely distracted. They are busy trying to laugh and have fun and can lose sight of the importance of the task at hand, such as driving. It can be wise to have a certain time frame where your teen is only allowed to have adult passengers. This way they acquire some skill behind the wheel before being given the privilege to transport other teens around. This will keep them and their friends safer.
5. Avoid driving under the influence
This is undoubtedly something your teen has been exposed to one or many times before, maybe by you as their parent, or maybe just in school or in their driver’s ed class; however, driving under the influence remains a huge problem in America. Simply saying “no drinking and driving” and leaving it at that may not be the best route to take to ensure their safety.
If you talk to your teen about driving under the influence, and keep the lines of communication open, they will be more inclined to listen and also to call you when they need help. A few things you can tell your teen if they find themselves needing to leave where they are while they are under the influence are:
- The amount of alcohol they had can make a difference. Stop drinking and try to sober up by drinking water, napping, etc.
- If they’re concerned about their focus and the way they feel, call a cab home or a trustworthy adult for a ride
- Never get into the car with someone who appears to be drunk. They cannot anticipate their actions and they will have lost all control for their own safety.
- Alcohol isn’t the only substance to avoid driving under the influence of. Not only should safety be a concern, but getting pulled over and consequently arrested should be a huge factor that plays in their decision making. Your teen should know that one bad choice could ruin the rest of their lives. ONE bad decision. It’s not worth it.
When your teen is in the beginning stages of driving, sharing some extra tips and wisdom with them will hopefully open their eyes to possible dangers on the road, while also giving them a higher sense of trust and open communication between you. At the end of the day, you will feel like you did everything you could to prepare your new driver for a successful start on the road. Also, be sure to seek first-time DUI help in Atlanta if they have already gotten in trouble on the road because of their addiction.
About the author
Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband.