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.
Fast forward seven years later and my son is no longer pretending.
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.
Things I did or did not do when my teen started driving:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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: