It is hard for me to believe that I am a parent to a teenager. It is even harder to believe that in two years she will be old enough to apply for her learners permit. Although it is technically a couple of years before she will be behind the wheel of a car, I want to ensure that she is familiar with driver safety long before she applies for her Tennessee Learners Permit.
I've been reading up on driver safety as I want to be as knowledgeable and up-to-speed on safety issues as she is. Things have changed quite a bit since I started driving in the 80s. We did not have the digital distractions that we have vying for our attention today. Did you know that when you send or receive a text you take your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that's like driving the length of an entire football field, blindfolded! Here are 7 ways you can get your teen ready to drive:
1. Set a Good Example. Parents, your teen will learn how to react to certain situations in traffic and how to drive responsibly from you. Remember that they are always watching you and how you handle difficult situations on the road. Put your cell phone away. Point out examples of other motorists exhibiting unsafe driving habits, such as speeding, and discuss with your teen the consequences.
2. Enroll Them in A Driver’s Education Course. The state of Tennessee offers an online course and practice test for a small fee. There are also independent driving schools that offer courses.
3. Practice Driving in Different Weather Situations. Help familiarize your teen with all of your car's features needed during various weather situations, such as windshield wipers and defrost. Have a plan in place for communication during inclement weather, such as ice or snow.
4. Discuss Car Maintenance. Take your teen with you the next time you get your oil changed or your tires rotated so that they become aware of regular car maintenance needed to keep a vehicle running safely.
5. Reinforce Key Safety Messages. Reinforce the important messages, and again, set a good example as a driver for your kids. Reiterate that there is no excuse for texting and driving…ever...as well as no excuse for drinking and driving. According to Distraction.gov, 10% of drivers of all ages under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted. Distraction.gov is also a great resource for parents and beginner drivers.
6. Educate Them on Roadside Safety. Talk to your teen about different safety scenarios and what they should do. For example, how would they handle a flat tire? What would they do if their check engine light comes on?
7. Familiarize Them With Driving Laws. Discuss the laws of the road with your teen. In the state of Tennessee, for example, motorists must turn on their vehicle's headlights if it is raining enough to warrant use of a vehicle’s windshield wipers.
Do you have a beginner driver at your home? What tips do you have?