McNeely Stephenson - Personal Injury

Practical Driving Tips to Give Your Children

Many young people dream of the day when they can finally get behind the wheel of an automobile. Not only does it represent independence, it is a social equalizer for many teens.

For parents, the idea of their teen driving an automobile is enough to warrant a series of paralyzing panic attacks. After all, parents remember clearly when their child wore diapers and needed help feeding themselves. Before they know it, that same person will now be operating the equivalent of a small army tank on a vast open road, sharing the road with people they wouldn’t trust to walk their dog.

While teens might picture a scene out of Road Trip, parents envision a dystopian scene more closely resembling that of a Mad Max movie.

That might sound a little like hyperbole for some readers, but it will resonate with many parents. The anxiety-inducing process of watching your teen become licensed to drive is fraught with more bouts of panic than perhaps any other period of the parent-child relationship.

During this period of time, parents will no doubt find themselves being a virtual fountain of advice. The sheer amount of driving wisdom that parents are capable of doling out to their teens is on par with levels seen only in the most enlightened of gurus. It might even be frustrating to see your teen start to tune out while you’re providing such invaluable nuggets of advice.

For this reason, it’s best for parents to remember that it’s better to offer a few bits of memorable advice, as opposed to a constant bombardment that will be perceived as little more than nagging when heard through the filter of a teen’s ears.

One of the best teachers that a new driver will have is a parent. While we aren’t directly responsible for every action our children take when they get behind the wheel, we definitely play a huge part in crafting their driving habits, and we have to remember that our role is best served through the deliberate dissemination of strategically divulged wisdom. In other words, we have to pick our battles.

It is up to each of us to decide which tips we want to pass on to our teens, but the chances are good that if you are reading this, you are open to suggestions. So, without further ado, here are a few practical bits of driving advice that you can pass along to your child.

Don’t Let Fuel Levels Drop Below a Quarter of a Tank – Some of us are more carefree than others when letting the gas level in our vehicles fall to frighteningly low levels, but once a driver experiences an empty gas tank, they realize that their parent’s advice on this particular topic is completely valid. Being stranded on the side of the road is dangerous for many reasons - it could put a vehicle in a hazardous location and make a driver dependent on the goodwill of strangers. Perhaps even worse in the mind of a teenager, however, is the fact that is also extremely embarrassing. While you might be more focused on the former, remind your teen of the latter when driving home this lesson.

No Extra Passengers During the First Year of Driving - Is it possible that this rule will be broken behind your back? Yes, it might even be likely, but the important thing is to make clear the danger of having extra passengers. AAA reports that when it comes to distracted driving crashes among teens, extra passengers exceed mobile devices as the chief cause of distraction. A teen might question the point of having a license if you can’t drive your friends, but the earlier and more forcefully you stress this rule, the more likely it is that the lesson will stick.

The Phone Goes in the Back Seat - This doesn’t mean that you should metaphorically relegate your phone to a lower status of importance when driving. It means, literally, putting the phone in the back seat of the vehicle - preferably on mute - so that it will definitely not be a source of distraction for a teen driver.

Know How to Change a Tire - If you don’t know how to change a tire as a parent, then maybe the two of you could learn it together. It’s not necessary to be able to handle all of the problems that we might encounter on the road, but this is one predictable problem that we can all be prepared to solve should the time come, which it is usually does at some point in a driver’s life.

Navigate Hazardous Weather Conditions - There are certain conditions in which teens must learn to drive sooner or later, and it’s best to learn how to drive in bad weather as early as possible. Consider accompanying your teen to a large, empty parking lot when the roads are icy to get some practice. Remember the bad weather driving fundamentals, such as not braking while hydroplaning or traveling at a safe distance when the roads are slick.

Relax - Maybe this bit of advice is intended as much for parents as it is for teens. Be vigilant, be cautious and be safe - but don’t allow yourself to be overcome with anxiety. New drivers might be nervous, as will their parents, but remember to take a deep breath and relax. Anxious or scared drivers are more likely to make bad decisions and put themselves and those around them in danger.

Teach the fundamentals to your teen and those good-driving basics will become a natural part of their driving routine. Don’t be hesitant to consult with professionals when it comes to education. Learning the basics of defensive driving, for example, can be a great benefit to your driving teen. Information is readily available on where one can take driving classes. It’s an activity that you can do with your teen.

Is it scary to see your child get behind the wheel for the first time? Of course it is, but remember that the best way to become a better driver is through experience. They won’t get everything right from the get-go, but with your invaluable advice guiding the way, they’ll be off to a great start.

Mike Stephenson has been handling personal injury cases in Indiana since 1981. Find out more about Mike by visiting his firm, McNeely Stephenson, through their website or by calling them at 1 (888) 989-7237.