No matter how old they may get, your children will always be your children and seeing them go off to new things can be worrying, to say the least. Perhaps the most stressful of these times can be when they start to drive. Sure you’ll ride with them for a while, but eventually the day will come where you have to let them drive without you whether you like it or not. To that end, there are some tips and tricks you can keep in mind to prepare your teen and yourself for the day they drive down the road without you.
- Buckle Up– While it may seem like second nature to most of us, an excited teen will often need to be reminded that this basic task should be the first thing they and all their passengers do when they get into the car. This is a simple thing that can make a world of difference and is easy to set an example for. Take it from our friends at Atlantic Volkswagen (West Islip, NY), practice what you preach and your teen is more likely to practice it to!
- Establish Rules with a Zero Tolerance Policy– Most people, but especially teens, aren’t likely to follow rules if there’s no drawback to breaking them. So for that reason, any rules made about driving need to have consequences attached that are made clear from the get-go. Our first suggestion for the rules, no drinking and driving. Teens shouldn’t be drinking to begin with, it being illegal and all, but the combination of a teen’s inexperience combined with inebriation is a recipe for disaster. And if our teen broke that rule they wouldn’t be driving for quite a while.
- Limit Distractions– Distractions can come in all shapes and sizes, and learning to ignore them or at least not let them steal all your focus can take a bit to learn. So the easiest way to deal with them as a young driver is to limit them as much as possible. The two biggest distractions that are most easily limited would be the phone and number of passengers. That phone needs to be silent so they won’t feel the need to talk, text, or surf the web when their attention should be on the road ahead. Likewise for passengers, a strict limit needs to be set so there will be less inclination for someone to be looking at someone who isn’t the road in front of them.
- Be Aware– There’s a lot going on when you’re on the road, and it can be quite the learning curve to get used to taking it all in. Make sure while you are riding with them that your teens are always on the look-out for things such as aggressive drivers to avoid, how full the gas tank is, that intersections are clear even if the light is green, and that animals and pedestrians are clear from their path. Not seeing something is rarely an excuse that flies when it comes to auto-accidents, especially when it came as a result of something they should have seen, so make sure your teen is prepared to watch out for anything that could come at them on the road.
- Limit Speed– It can be a big temptation to push that pedal to the metal for new drivers, but it’s important to impart upon young drivers that speed limits are there for a reason and have to be obeyed. And if not, should they get caught speeding whether by you or a cop, it might be a good idea to go back to those rules we mentioned and revoke someone’s driving privileges for a bit.
- Be Prepared– While there’s always a chance something completely unforeseen could happen, it’s important and helpful to keep in mind where and when someone’s going somewhere. Keeping that in mind, keeping a safety box in the trunk or backseat can be a life-saver. Will it be snowing? Some icemelt and a small shovel might come in handy. Raining? An umbrella or rain poncho could help. So always try and help them learn to be prepared.
- Finally, it’s important to always Be Encouraging– While teen drivers need to know when they’ve done something wrong and how to fix it, it’s equally important that they hear when they’ve done something right so they can keep doing it. An encouraged driver is a confident driver, which is a driver more likely to make decisions that will keep them safe on the road.