There are a few moments greater in a young teen’s life than getting there driver’s license. They’ve put the work in, gone to the dreaded classes, passed the test, waited in the world’s slowest line at the DMV, and finally got a little plastic card that says they are responsible adults ready to share the road.
And while the kids are on Cloud 9, there are probably few more dreaded moments in a parent’s life than the one mentioned above. While your teen is wondering where they’re going to go first and thinking about all of the freedom the new car brings, you’re probably thinking about a myriad of situations that, well, you’d rather not think about.
If you want to put your mind at ease, share the following tips with your child before they head out onto the road:
1. Do not text and drive. This can’t be stated enough! We haven’t had access to text messaging and cell phones for too long, but the data is coming in that texting and driving gravely increases the chances of an accident.
2. Hide your phone from temptation. Suggest your teen place their cell phone in the center console or glove compartment before they start the car. This will reduce their temptation to check it or answer it while driving.
3. Give the right-a-way. A mantra repeated in Driver’s Ed. Remind your teen to give the right-a-way, not to take it. It’s important that your teen practice driving courtesy and not approach driving with a “Me first!” attitude.
4. Determine where you’re going before you leave. With the advent of cell technology we now see people constantly checking and double-checking their directions, optimizing their routes mid-course. Well, for you teen’s safety, make sure they know where they’re going before they start the car.
5. Slow down, don’t speed up. This trick is one of the best things I learned in Driver’s Ed. It seems that every time someone wants to change lanes they immediately speed up. Well, what I’ve found is that if you slow down instead you can change lanes much easier.
6. Assume everyone else doesn’t have a license. I think too often we assume someone will get over, or assume that someone will let us in or slow down. Well, instead try having your teen assume they are the only qualified driver on the road and that everyone else doesn't have a license.
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7. Make your child pay. Whether it's for insurance or part of the car itself, having your teen invest in their driving privilege will greatly increase their consideration and responsibility while driving.
8. Create a pre-driving routine. Have your teen practice a routine and they’re much more likely to stick to it. Work with them to develop small trigger behaviors (i.e. Checking their mirrors triggers fastening their seatbelt).
9. Make sure there’s a spare and a jack. What caused us to out-evolve every other species? Tools. Make sure your teen's vehicle has all of the essentials like a spare tire, a jack, and and that they know how to use them.
10. Applying makeup and/or grooming.
According to the California DMV, putting on makeup and grooming oneself
is one of the most dangerous distractions while driving. Remind your teen to either groom before they leave or wait until they arrive at their destination.
And here’s a bonus tip for you parents:
11. Create a laminated list of emergency contact numbers for them to keep in there wallet. In addition to showing them where the important numbers are located on their car (Roadside Assistance, Police Hotline), you should help them come up with a priority list of emergency contact numbers that they can keep on them at all times.
(n.b. the Roadside Assistance and Police Hotline numbers are located on the driver’s side door panel or on the windows).
Do you know of some tips and tricks that could help new drivers? If so, I’d love to hear about them, so please leave your responses in the comments below. If you think this list could help a driver you know, please help them out and share it.