I had two teen drivers and I remember how anxious I was every time they took the car out. To be fair, we’re probably more safety conscious than most parents because my husband is a career fire fighter and he warned the boys of every possible thing that could happen on the road.
To say we may have over done it is probably an understatement, but I’m happy to report the boys are in their mid-20’s now and thankfully with the exception of one speeding ticket, they’ve both been great drivers. That doesn’t mean I’ve stopped worrying. My youngest just drove from Washington state to Mississippi and I didn’t breathe a sign of relief until he let me know he arrived there safely.
I don’t think you ever stop worrying about your kids, but if you take the time to prepare them for the future, you’ll know you did the best you could. So I’m happy to share the following information from Sarah Robinson. She’s an engineer and Michelin test-track driver (one of just a few females in this position). She wants to share the following information on how to maintain your vehicle safely and how to effectively teach your young drivers about their responsibilities on the road.
Why share the tips now? Because each year, the days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are the deadliest 100 days for teen drivers and their passengers, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA). So help us minimize this risk for both the kids and anyone they might harm as well by sharing this info now.
Sarah’s tips for teaching teen drivers
- Situational awareness: To keep yourself out of danger, nothing is more effective than being aware of your surroundings.
- Vision: Train your eyes to anticipate danger, focus as far ahead as you can see and use your peripheral vision to observe your immediate surroundings.
- Stay focused: Distractions can result in fatal accidents. Parents should set rules limiting the number of passengers riding with a teenage driver. Using a cell phone, text messaging, changing the radio station or iPod tunes, or applying makeup should never be done while driving.
- Speed and distance: Obey the speed limit, adjust your vehicle’s speed to match weather conditions and maintain a proper distance from the vehicle ahead of you.
- Defensive-driving class: Practice is the best defense against accidents. A third-party instructor often can influence teens more effectively than the limitations of the typical parent–teen dynamic. Instructors are trained to teach teens car-control skills so they can avoid or minimize accidents.
- Seating position: Proper seating position maximizes your ability to control your vehicle. Sarah provides tips to ensure drivers are positioned with arms the proper distance from the steering wheel and legs from the brake and gas pedals.
- Set mirrors properly: Side mirrors can help maximize the view of the road, rather than reflecting the side of the car.
- Steering position: For optimal control, hands should be placed at the three-o’clock and nine-o’clock positions on the steering wheel.
- Tire pressure: Parents should teach their teenage drivers to check the pressure of all four tires once a month. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 33,000 injuries and 700 deaths occur every year due to underinflated tires.
- Safety equipment: Prepare the vehicle with the necessary safety equipment and an emergency kit. Cars equipped with stability-control systems, antilock-braking system and airbags help reduce accidents as well as the severity of injuries if an accident occurs.
- Parents’ role: Parents can play a significant role in teaching their teenage drivers basic safety. First, they should be a good role model to their children when they are in the driver’s seat. Next, they should establish safe-driving rules and enforce them. They also should enroll young drivers in defensive-driving courses. Finally, parents should explain the responsibilities and dangers of handling a 3,000-plus-pound vehicle.
And please, for me, remind your kids that there’s a ZERO tolerance for underage drinking and driving. When our kids were teens we specifically told them they were not to drink, but if they did, they were NOT to drive and that they could call us any time, any day, and we would come get them with no consequences. It worked for us.
NOTE: Tips reprinted with permission
- Teens face the deadliest days of summer driving (drivesafeblog.com)
- Driver Errors Explain Most Teen Crashes (nlm.nih.gov)
- Alcohol Awareness Month – Help is Available, Please Reach Out – GNC Gift Certificate Giveaway (miscfinds4u.com)