Your teen is working towards their driver’s license and it’s finally time for them to start practicing behind the wheel. That’s awesome! And a little scary, especially for you as a parent. If you want to make sure your child is as safe as possible on the road, here are a few key driving lessons to review this summer.
Car Maintenance Is a Must
When you’re teaching your teen how to drive, it’s easy to get caught up in behaviors they need to learn behind the wheel. But part of being a responsible driver is also knowing how to keep your car in good condition. Your teen won’t get very far if the car they’re supposed to be driving is falling apart, after all. Maybe a semi engine is designed to run for 1 million miles before it needs replacement, but the same can’t be said about the hand-me-down sedan your teen is about to drive away with. So while you’re giving your teen important tips for their time behind the wheel, here are a few tips to include about what’s under the hood.
Tire Pressure – Tires will deflate a little bit over time, which is normal. But if you’re not careful about teaching your teen to check tire pressure periodically, you could be wasting gas and putting unnecessary wear and tear on your tires.
Oil Levels – Checking in on your car’s oil goes beyond getting it changed every 3,000-5,000 miles. Learning how to check the oil levels in your vehicle — especially if it’s an older model — is crucial to making sure it runs like it’s supposed to. Teach your teen how to read a dipstick and add oil if the levels are looking low.
Windshield Wipers – A clear windshield is a safe windshield. But if your teen doesn’t know how to change out their windshield wipers or clean them properly, you can run into visibility issues. In addition, learning how to change wiper fluid is crucial.
Checking Lights – Checking all of the lights on the exterior of your vehicle is a great habit to get into. Teach your teen to check up on their headlights, tail lights, and signal lights on a regular basis to make sure they’re all functioning properly.
Phones Can Wait
One of the most important lessons to teach your teen as they learn to drive is that distractions — especially phone-related distractions — can wait until they’re off the road. Almost 52% of personal injury lawsuits are the result of car accidents. And being distracted by a phone is the worst reason to get involved in an accident. So before you even get in the car with your teen behind the wheel, have a talk about strategies to eliminate potential distractions from phones. And remember that it’s your job as a parent to lead by example! You can talk to your teen all you want about putting their phone away while they’re driving, but if you take calls on the road and allow your phone to distract you, you’re setting a precedent for ignoring phone safety.
Leave Room to Brake
Leaving appropriate distance for braking is one of the most important lessons any new driver can learn. One of the most crucial things to relay to your teen is that braking distance grows exponentially along with the speed of the vehicle. This lesson should go hand-in-hand with speeding up slowly. The faster you need to go, the more time you should give yourself to accelerate. The same principle applies to braking, except you’re slowing down instead of speeding up. Following a car too closely — no matter how frustrating slower drivers may be — can lead directly to a car accident. And considering there were almost 1,200 injuries state-wide caused by car accidents in states like Missouri alone, you want to help your teen avoid that in whatever way possible.
When you’re teaching your teen to drive, it can feel like a totally new and terrifying experience. But as long as you have these essential tips in your teaching toolkit, your teen will have a foundation of safe driving habits to build on as they learn.