Navigating Teenage Driving
● By Christy Milan
Curves in the Road
By Christy Milan
PUTTING THE CAR IN PARK, the air released from my lungs like a deflated balloon. We had made it safely back to the spot where we began our training session. I was teaching my teenager to drive and our nerves were a little frayed. It made me wonder how other parents dealt with this situation. After all, driving is a coming of age – or as I was often reminded by my mother, “Driving is a privilege.” It is both. After years of experience behind the wheel and encountering all kinds of drivers, I have come to a conclusion: We all could be better drivers.
Whether you are experienced or a new driver, the act can be daunting. The misuse (or non-use) of a turn signal makes you wonder if the driver knows a flashy light lets others know what his/her plans are. Mix this in with the statistics of cell phone use among drivers and it becomes a hard road to travel. The National Safety Council reports that one in four accidents in the United States is caused by texting and driving. So how do you make sure your teen is not the bad driver on the road? How do you both overcome the anxiety?
Chances are your teen and you are nervous, anxious and a little fearful. Drivers’ education can take some pressure off you and your teenager. Jon Pecaut, president of Shasta Driving School, offered these tips: “The best drivers use their eyes effectively. Look ahead, check mirrors frequently, always keep eyes moving and scanning for potential hazards.” His advice for parents? “Be familiar with the area you’re going to practice in. Speak calmly – your anxiety will rub off on your teen. When an issue occurs, pull over and park to discuss what just happened.
“Driving safely requires 100 percent of your attention 100 percent of the time,” Pecaut continues. Even a conversation with a passenger can be a distraction.
“The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status, or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we all believe that we are above-average drivers.” ~ Dave Barry
Here are some other helpful tips when your teen is learning to drive:
• Thoroughly read the Department of Motor Vehicles handbook, keep a copy in the glove box and refer back to it when needed.
• Wear proper fitting shoes. Many drivers, new and experienced, have accidentally hit the gas instead of the brake.
• Slow for the cone zone. Construction and highway maintenance requires workers to be in harm’s way. Slow down for these areas and allow proper time for your travels.
• Set an example of good driving. Be sure to pull over in a safe place if you have to text or call. Be aware of your own time limits and leave early.
This experience with your teen can be exciting and fun with the proper planning and communication. •