Driving is a big responsibility for your teenage driver. If you have had a teenager go through driver’s education you know that no matter how good the instructors are, they can’t possibly cover everything you need to know as a driver. This is especially important for young drivers that don’t have a lot of experience. Even drivers that have been on the road for years still get the occasional surprise when behind the wheel.
As parents, we need to help our teenage drivers be safe and know what to do when they get surprised behind the wheel!
- Review with your young driver what all dash lights mean and what to do when lit. Some of the lights are less crucial than others, but there are times when you should pull over as soon as safely possible and turn off the engine. For example, the check engine light can be orange or it can be read. Think of orange as something that needs attention in the near future and the red as Woah, there is a bigger problem here…and turn the car off.
- How to check your car’s fluids and tires. It’s a good idea to keep some napkins and a tire gauge in the glove compartment. Review with your child how to check the tire air pressure and to know how much air should be in the tires on his/her car. The napkins can be used to clean the dipstick for a more accurate oil fluid reading. If your car is known to use oil it is a good idea to keep an extra quart in the trunk.
- Driving conditions are always changing, and often can be unpredictable. Knowing how to handle the car in adverse weather conditions is a must for your young driver. Practice with them and talk about what to do when driving on wet pavement, snow, and ice. It’s a good idea to review driving conditions when the seasons are changing. Sometimes it can take you by surprise when the first snowstorm of the season hits!
- Even if your teen driver is exceptionally good at driving, you cannot predict what other drivers will do. Teen drivers are often cautious and other drivers might mistake this for not understanding the rules of the road. Talk with your child about road rage and how to handle aggressive drivers that they may encounter.
- There can be many distractions when driving, especially for a teenage driver. Remind yourself and your young driver that friends in the car can be a distraction and take the safety of all drivers seriously. Texting is illegal when driving, and your cell phone shouldn’t even be visible unless properly mounted on the dash and is used as a GPS.
- Blind spots can be tricky. Don’t rely solely on quick glances and thinking you know the path is clear unless you have thoroughly checked your surroundings and are positive. Your peripheral vision can trick you too. Remember that not all cars have the same blind spots, so get to know them in every car you drive!
- Pedestrian, bicycle, and motorcycle traffic can be deceiving. Take extra precautions to protect others on the road!
- Make sure your young driver knows how to fill the gas tank. There are many videos out there where people have videotaped drivers making mistakes at the gas station while trying to figure out how to park and use the gas pump. Don’t let your young driver be one of them!
- How to know if you have a trustworthy mechanic. Sadly, not all of us are fully honest. Research can be started online, but keep in mind that pricing may vary depending on the area you live, the expertise of the mechanic, and the car itself. Parts are vehicle specific and are not created equal! If you are in unfamiliar territory, maybe get a second opinion or call your mechanic at home to see if you could get your car to a trusted source for your repairs.
To learn more about safe driving for your young driver read:
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