Having a teen in the family who’s learning how to drive can be nerve-wracking, to say the least. And when you consider how expensive car insurance can be — the minimum in Colorado is a whopping $25,000 — the financial stress is real. All this to say that preparing your teen for the realities of owning a car and driving on the open road is incredibly important.
If you’re worried about your teen as they begin their driving journey, here are a few things to put at the top of your list of lessons to teach.
The Phone Can Wait
One of the most important lessons you can teach your teen as they prepare for car ownership and the open road is to leave their phone out of sight. Distracted driving is the cause of countless accidents and injuries, and a smartphone is one of the biggest distractions available to teens today. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways your teen can eliminate the possibility of becoming distracted by their phone while they drive. Here are a few helpful ideas to get your teen started with.
- Turn your phone off before getting into the car and leave it off until you reach your destination.
- Put your phone in a bag out of your reach until you reach your destination.
- Ask another passenger to handle music playing from your phone.
- Let whoever you’re texting know when you’re driving and how long it will be before you respond.
- Leave your phone at home for short errands.
A sedan might be able to fit up to three passengers and some luggage, but the one thing no car has room for is distractions. And while the ideas above can help your teen practice, the best way to teach them is by example. If you’re consistently on your phone while you’re driving, your kids are going to pick up on that, no matter how old they are. So keep your phone out of sight and out of mind while you’re behind the wheel to set a good example for your teen.
Knowing Basic Car Maintenance Is Essential
When it comes to learning to drive, a big part of that is learning how to care for a car. And since it’s likely your teen won’t be driving a brand new model, regular maintenance is going to be that much more important. North America might recycle almost 80 tons of steel every year, but the last thing you want is for a newly purchased car to become scrap metal in mere months. Some of the most important maintenance tasks your teen should know how to perform include:
- Checking oil levels
- Testing tire tread
- Testing tire pressure
- Filling wiper fluid
- Changing a tire
- Replacing windshield wiper blades
- Changing the air filter
These are just a few of the many vehicle maintenance tasks you can teach your teen to perform on their own. If your teen knows how to maintain their own vehicle, at least in part, it’s possible that they’ll be able to keep it on the road for many years to come. Of course, keeping up with car maintenance also means knowing when to call a professional. For instance, if your teen is hearing weird noises when they brake, then they need to know that it’s time to call a mechanic as soon as possible.
How to Plan for Emergencies
Whether it’s a flat tire or your teen spun out on an icy road, it’s important to have a plan for emergencies on the road. Insurance might cover the damage to your teen’s car, but they’re not going to send a tow truck out to the site of the emergency. Instead, make sure you have a list of local car repair and towing services in the car for your teen to reference. Even better, invest in roadside assistance programs that offer towing services at the touch of a button or through an app. This can help your teen get the assistance they need in the event of an emergency.
Teaching your teen how to be a responsible driver definitely isn’t a walk in the park. But with these tips on your teaching list, you can rest easy knowing that you’re providing a thorough education for the newest driver in your family.