Conquering My Fears When My Teen Started Driving

As we’re approaching the end of the first month of the new year, I think about how fast the years have flown by. At the beginning of the month I posted an overview of the past year and as I was going through my annual picture cleaning day yesterday, I came across a photo that really hit me like a tidal wave.

This photo is my oldest son at ten years old. He was always obsessed with cars and airplanes, so he was overly anxious to learn how to drive. I let him sit in the drivers seat while waiting for his dad to come out of the store and he had a grin from ear to ear as he was pretending to drive.

Rob pretending to drive in 2010
Rob pretending to drive in 2010

Fast forward seven years later and my son is no longer pretending.

Rob now actually driving 2017
Rob now actually driving 2017

My anxiety has been on overload as reality has slapped me in the face with the car keys. I knew this day would come, but as much as it was inevitable, it’s still a milestone in a parent’s life (as well as the teen’s life) that just makes you wonder where time has gone. However, no matter how much I trust him and see first hand how well he drives, I am still a mom and I have two other teens who will be driving this year and next year, so safety matters most to me!  Therefore, as the savvy geek mom I am, I did my research!

Contrary to popular belief, teens crash most often because they are inexperienced. They struggle judging gaps in traffic, driving the right speed for conditions and turning safely, among other things.

Here is some important information to know from AAA Keys2Drive when your teen starts driving:

Three important tips to remind your teen every time they get behind the wheel:

Focus On the Road
Maybe you’re driving to a movie or home from school and have a car full of friends. It’s easy to get lost in conversation or caught in an impromptu sing-along. Although socializing while driving is acceptable, remember your number one priority – safely operating your vehicle. Let your friends know that you aren’t ignoring them, you are simply focusing on keeping them, and yourself, safe.

Don’t Get Distracted By Technology
Chances are you have a smart-phone, MP3 player, and maybe even satellite radio. While these are all perfectly fine devices to have in your vehicle, they can be quite distracting. Completely avoid flipping through your music library or answering texts while driving – they can wait. Even removing your eyes from the road for a second can make all the difference between avoiding a collision and having to pay to repair a stranger’s bumper.

Recognize Hazardous Situations
You know snow is dangerous to drive in, but what about the seemingly safe situations? Heavy rains can cause flooding and often are accompanied by forceful winds. A dark night and unfamiliar roads are breeding grounds for accidents. Without proper experience it is best to avoid driving in situations that make you uncomfortable. Spend the night or wait out the storm at a friend’s house – you’ll be happy you did.

grand-theft-auto-iv

Things I did or did not do when my teen started driving:

  1. Three T’s – Tea, Tylenol and Texting. Between high blood pressure, anxiety, worry, aches and pains and all that stress, I’ve been on a Tea rush lately to calm my nerves with a little tylenol to help the pain, and making sure my teen texts me as soon as he reaches his destination and is not driving.
  2. The Fast & The Worried! I limited what I watched or the video games I play to help reduce my anxiety now that my teen is driving. No, I don’t play GTA (Grand Theft Auto) anymore or watch Fast & The Furious because the auto chases and speed racing got me all worked up! I’ll go back to the racing games and movies when I get more comfortable and used to my teens driving.
  3. Breeeeeeeeeeathe! Sometimes when my son is driving and my husband is in the front, I sit in the back and just let out a looooooong sigh. I try not to impede on my husband’s teaching with my screams of terror or “OH MY GOD! Slow down!” methods.

I know first hand that parenting a teenager these days is serious business, (between the Internet, social media, smart phones, texting, and the radio) and getting them ready for the road can be terrifying. So to help make your teen smarter behind the wheel and help stop your hand from shaking as you hand over the keys, take my advice and prepare yourself and your teen. That day will finally come when they no longer pretend to drive!

And here is some helpful teen driving resources for parents:

Is your teen going to be driving soon? Did they already start? How did you handle their first year of driving?

6 Comments Add yours

  1. In our state teens have to log 50 hours of driving with you in the car (that may not be the rule anymore, my son is 27) before they get their license. I took him to a rural area and let him drive I crocheted and kept my eyes off of what he was doing so I wasn’t always nagging.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kat M says:

      Great idea Kate. I try to watch the scenery in the side of me instead of in front of me. I’m horrible as it is with anxiety, so if he can get thru driving with me, he’s pretty good lol. They do have to have a certain amount of time driving beforehand, but their high school driving courses also count as a part of safety driving time so that’s a relief!! They didn’t have driving classes as a requirement for me or my husband when we were in high school but that was over 20 years ago lol I think they realize with all the tech, they need need the courses in school now.

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  2. When my girl was growing up, I would always go over small lessons, way before she was close to driving. Like what the different lines in the middle mean, explaining the signs, etc. On road trips, if I was the passenger we would have real paper map tutorials, so she can read one. By the time she was actually driving, she had all that stuff down it wasn’t so MUCH. At 17 she drove alone through Dallas to another city, and back, and had no issues. I was incredibly proud.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kat M says:

      Perfect parenting! That’s exactly how parents should do it too! Good for her! We need more safe training like that. I know these days my kids play a lot of simulation games and can learn rules of the road (and sky for that matter). My husband flew the C130 in the military so my son always wanted to fly so we got him the simulation games. It paid off because on his 13th birthday we got him flying lessons and his first flight he flew perfectly! So we just did the same with his driving. But its the other drivers I worry about most, the ones who aren’t trained like your daughter or my son, because they are the ones who are making it dangerous for the teens.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly! There is also that part of training, “You know what YOU are doing at all times… but what are THEY doing????” It helped when she began riding with other friends driving and she realized the skills weren’t always instilled. She would come home saying, “Sue doesn’t even know how to park, Mom! And Lori almost killed us because she didn’t know where the windshield wiper knob was!!!”

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Kat M says:

        I know! Isn’t that scary?? And to think teaching moments like that are lacking in other parts of daily living and not just driving leaves me speechless lol! I am just hoping I can get through the driving stages with all three of my teens this year and next! On the bright side, I have my own chauffeurs now! =D

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