School has started! This means your teen driver will be driving to and from school every day, five days a week, at peak morning rush hour. Gone are the days of minivan carpools and early morning shuttle runs. Despite all the great things that come with a teen driver, there are a few things you should probably talk to them about.
Give them the Talk…no, not that Talk
Teens are rough on cars, it’s a simple fact of life. That’s is why their first car should be a 2003 Toyota Camry and not a 2018 Mustang GT. There are certain driving habits that you need to talk to them about – perhaps some advice to follow yourself too.
They speed. There is no denying that they don’t. I sped in high school and so did everyone else. Does that make it okay? No, but you shouldn’t deny it either. After all, teens learn their driving habits from their parents (YOU). This means if you want them to stop speeding everywhere, teach them through your own actions. Show them time-management skills and patience, or simply teach them not to care about being late – personally, that last one isn’t the best advice, but if it gets them to slow down maybe it’s not such a bad thing!
Turn signals are not just for looks. Let me say it louder for those in the back: TURN SIGNALS ARE NOT JUST FOR LOOKS! This is a problem with everyone, not just with teenagers. Although, it starts when we first learn to drive. If we aren’t taught to use our signals early and often, we use them less and less as we get older. You should be using your turn signal when merging, changing lanes, and turning (even in a designated turn lane). They are not just for the cars driving behind you but for those driving in front of you, past you, and even pedestrians. Use your signal, please.
Again, not solely a teen issue, but more prevalent among teen drivers. As it so happens, using any type of handheld electronic device while driving is illegal now, at least in our area. This means that no one, teen or adult, should be looking at their phone for any reason. It may even land you a traffic ticket with a hefty fine attached. If you or your teen has to speak on the phone, just pull over!
The most noticeable part of your car that takes the most damage from speeding and tailgating is your windshield. Surprise surprise, the large sheet of glass on your car is prone to damage with reckless driving. How? Driving kicks up rocks and dust from the road which can easily fly up and smack into your windshield, creating a chip or crack.
I think it’s pretty self-explanatory. If you follow close behind other vehicles, then the rocks and dirt they kick up will come flying into your windshield. In fact, most chips are caused by rocks thrown up by other cars and getting closer to them just makes it more likely for that to happen.
Just stop tailgating, it’s for your own good.
What to Remember
So what should you take from this? Well, for starters, tell your teen driver, not to tailgate and give them this reason. I’m positive they’ve heard the “you’ll rear-end someone” reason a thousand times, and a thousand times they’ve rolled their eyes, “knowing” they could stop in time. However, if you tell them that you can’t afford to keep replacing their windshield, and the next one is on them, they might just back off a few yards from the car ahead of them.
Additionally, you should also work on your own driving. Chances are you get a little too close to cars yourself and often go a bit too fast on the highway. So unless you’re fireably late, or are rushing to the hospital with a passenger close to death, slow down…or call an ambulance. No sense endangering others and the windshield too!
Safe driving and happy adventuring.
A: Ben Delamater