By Danielle Wallace, BG Content Strategy Manager and mom to a teenage daughter. Read time: 4.5 minutes
As a parent, one of the hardest things to accept is that your kid is growing up. This becomes painfully apparent when they ask if they can drive their friends to the mall – wait, what? Wasn’t she just in diapers?
Well, she wasn’t. And now she has her license and I have a whole new set of anxieties to work through with my therapist. How am I supposed to protect her if I’m not in the vehicle with her?
This was a big pill to swallow for me. And, to be honest, it still feels stuck in my throat (don’t you hate that?). I need to know she’s safe. I need to know that she gets from point A to point B without any trouble.
I decided I was going to be smart about turning over my daughter and her car to the open road.
I would also like to take this moment to say: No matter how much they try to convince you, teens are NOT good drivers. They are NEW drivers. And they are pretty bad at it just like we were. They need practice, preparation, support, and constant reminders.
1. Teach them the ins and outs of a vehicle.
First things first, you have to cover the basics. It’s a rite of passage to learn:
- How to pop the hood and check the oil
- Where the spare tire is
- How to change a flat
- How to jump a battery
- What all these dash lights mean
Try to keep your cool when you get the inevitable “I know” response.
Spend a whole driving lesson without the radio on and with minimal talking. I know, if you have a teenage daughter, this is asking a lot. But a lesson spent in silence will teach them the normal sounds of a vehicle. They’ll learn to recognize when something isn’t right.
2. Mitigate distractions with parent-friendly apps.
Also known as don’t text and drive. When I get in my car, I turn my phone on Do Not Disturb and I encourage (force) my daughter to do the same. The last thing I want is for her, or anyone, to get in an accident due to distracted driving. It’s too easy to prevent. Put the phone down.
Actually, my daughter and I both have a Hum installed in the OBD-II port of our cars. This handy little device tells me her driving safety score. It monitors phone use while driving, sharp cornering, high speed, hard braking, and rapid acceleration. It makes me feel secure knowing she’s being safe on the road. It also lets me know that she gets where she’s supposed to go.
You can limit distractions with helpful tools like the onboard “Do Not Disturb” setting or other similar apps. Here are some I’ve read about:
This goes completely without saying, but I will tell you, it just pains me to see kids on their phones in the car. It pains me just as much to see an adult very, very slowly turning in an intersection because he is looking down at his phone. Pro Tip: Driving slowly doesn’t cancel out the fact that you are literally not even looking at the road.
No texting. No social media. Eyes on the road.
3. Limit passengers in the car.
Whew, this was a battle. I don’t want her driving a bunch of her friends around, not till she’s older anyway. Other kids are a distraction.
My magic number is one friend at a time. The last thing I want is for her to turn to the backseat to chat with a friend and lose focus on the road.
This conversation got me a few eye rolls and “I know Mom” (teenagers, am I right?). But, I know it’s for the best.
4. Minimize driving after dark
Did you know that almost 40 percent of fatal teenage driving accidents happen between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.? Driving in the dark is hard enough for an experienced driver. And for a new teen driver, it’s dangerous! (See my Ted Talk on how teens are terrible drivers above.)
My policy? Try not to drive in the dark. Simple as that. At least for her first year on the road. I live in the real world though, so I know there will be times when she can’t avoid it. Like in the wintertime, when it’s dark at 4:30 p.m. But, thanks to the steps I’m taking to prepare her, I know she’ll make smart decisions on her way home.
5. Prepare them for any scenario
Things happen that we can’t control. I want my daughter to be prepared. She’ll know how to change her tire, but if something else goes wrong, I want her to have the resources she needs to deal with it.
Using a roadside assistance program is a great way to make sure she’s covered in case of a breakdown. We use BG on the Road® because it’s free with the purchase of a BG service.
Even if your vehicle isn’t in a roadside assistance program, talk to your teen about what to do in case they break down. Check with your insurance provider (Lord knows, you’ve talked to them plenty as you’ve shifted funds around to add her to your plan). They may have recommendations of service providers or other helpful tips.
I hope you found these tips helpful. And, parent to parent, you’re doing a great job.
All we can do is prepare them as much as possible and know we’ve set them up for success.
BG Content Strategy Manager
Danielle manages all content for the bgprod.com website, social media and advertising. She’s contributed articles on marketing to women, social media, advisor training and customer service to automotive publications including Fixed Ops and National Oil and Lube News.