Ah, the open road: throw the kids in the back, cram in enough stuff to fill a small apartment, and away you go. Mercifully, as the kids grow, you no longer need to cram in strollers, diapers and talking toys. It may seem that life is getting simpler.
But of course just around the corner is that moment when your sixteen-year-old has just obtained a learner's permit. So get ready for the words: Can I drive the car?
And suddenly your road trip getaway is the locus of all your teen driving anxieties.
Teen Driving: Learn by Doing
The obvious solution is to treat the getaway as an opportunity for your child get practice behind the wheel. Teenagers definitely need all the practice they can get... as some sobering teen driving statistics at Drivehomesafe.com indicate. So the chance to drive for long stretches with a parent(s) in the car is a Good Thing. Really.
Teen Driving: How to Help
For starters, watch your own habits and see what kind of example you set when behind the wheel. If you're an impatient tailgater-- well, pretend you're not, when the kids are in the car with you.
Scan around: act like a second pair of eyes for your teen driver. Point out the sorts of potential risks that your teen should be noticing. And of course watch for imminent dangers!
Hold the cell phone: in your own hands. Even if using a cell phone is not (yet) illegal where you're driving, your teen should not be distracted by cell phone calls.
Help out with the dashboard: new drivers can get flustered if suddenly the window fogs and they need to flip on the defroster, or they may need reminders to switch from high beams to low.
Watch your attitude toward your child: be patient and positive. Don't frazzle your teen driver with too much nagging. And definitely don't lose your cool: if tempers are rising, it may be time to take a break.
Planning for Safety
It's not only your job to scan the road for hazards, but to think far ahead-- well, that's parenting, isn't it?
For example: what lies ahead? Perhaps your teen is fine with highway driving but isn't ready to handle a strange big city. Make sure to take the wheel yourself in plenty of time-- so that he/she isn't plunged into heavy traffic and confusing interchanges.
Also, be sure you know the rules about teen drivers in individual states: some states prohibit teens from driving late at night. And double-check that you have adequate insurance.
Always, always, buckle up!
Tips on Teaching a Teen to Drive: