By: John Luttrell
Parents, let’s face it. One of the scariest times of our lives is when our children get behind the wheel for the first time by themselves. And we don’t ever really get over it, do we? Teen driving comes with a whole host of stress for parents – Is my kid being safe? Is he driving too fast? Is she distracted? What if she gets a flat tire and is stranded on the side of the road? These are questions all parents ask themselves as they face the reality that their sons and daughters are hitting the open road.
We have cause for concern. Teenage drivers account for more auto accidents than any other age group*. So, as a father, I think there is no such thing as over-reminding or over-hounding our kids to follow the rules of the road. Here are some of the things I like to remind my kids and grandkids…over, and over, and over again.
1) Put the phone down. I don’t care if you want your iTunes playing through your speakers, or if you’re talking-to-text…it still takes your attention away from the road, which is risky and dangerous. The text can wait. Don’t be tempted – just put the phone in the glove compartment, or in a backpack in the back seat. You don’t need it when you’re driving, and you can still get to it in case of an emergency.
2) Drive alone – at least for a while. Having a teen passenger in your car can double the risk of causing a car accident*. It takes a long time for driving to become second nature. Learn your way around the places you go most often and learn the nuances of your car. Be comfortable driving by yourself before bringing friends along for the ride.
3) Be aware. This may sound obvious, but be sure to notice the other cars around you. Make sure you stay far enough behind the car in front of you, look out for that car that is flying past you in the fast lane, watch the semi-truck that looks a little wobbly. By noticing these things as you drive, you have a better chance of finding yourself a safe way out of a dangerous situation.
Parents, we can’t underestimate the experience that comes with practice and age. Don’t be afraid to put limits on your teenage driver, such as only letting your daughter drive to and from work for a while, before being allowed to drive to the movies or softball practice. There is no such thing as “too strict” here – the safety of our kids is not a risk we want to take!