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Preparing for a Teenage Driver


Thanks to my partnership with Discount Tire, I’m sharing tips to keep our teen drivers safe.

Tips for Preparing for a Teenage Driver

This is a year of big transitions in our house. I shared in a recent post that my 12-year-old will be starting middle school this fall, but my fear and trepidation associated with having a daughter in middle school is quickly brought into perspective when I think of my 16-year-old man-child behind the wheel of a motored vehicle.

Tips for Preparing for a Teenage Driver
Yes, my son turns 16 in November, and that means it will soon be my job to teach him to drive.

I am SO not ready for this.

Is any parent ever ready for this? I highly doubt it.

I’ve already been trying to prepare my son for the road when we’re driving together around town. If I’m the only adult in the car, he sits in the front seat, and I try to explain the traffic rules and the reasoning for some of the decisions I make behind the wheel. He seems receptive, so we’ll see how long that lasts. I think right now, he’s still curious enough to listen to me.

I also went ahead and picked up the Pennsylvania Driver’s Manual the last time I was at the DMV so he can start familiarizing himself with the rules of the road. I figure the more he knows before he gets behind the wheel of the car, the safer we will all be.

He will be taking Driver’s Ed in public school this fall, so that will be good too. It’s nice to know that I’m not entirely on my own in this daunting endeavor!

Teaching kids car maintenance and safety tips is important as well. I don’t think I would have thought of that before Discount Tire reached out to me about partnering on this post, but it’s things like knowing how to fill a gas tank and checking tire pressure that we take for granted when we’ve been driving for so many years. Kids should know how to do those basic things before we send them out on their own.

Tips for Preparing for a Teenage Driver

Because I’m new to this, I went to Facebook and asked for advice from my veteran teen moms, and they gave me some great ideas that I hadn’t thought of. Maybe some of these will help you too.

7 Tips for Preparing a Teenage Driver for the Road

  1. Before the teenager starts driving lessons, familiarize him with the rules of the road and discuss how to handle various situations as you’re driving together.
  2. Start your teenager driving in an empty parking lot so he can get comfortable with maneuvering the car before taking him on the road.
  3. Consider investing in driver’s education lessons so your teenager has the opportunity to learn from other adults as well as from you.
  4. Make sure your teenager gets plenty of practice driving in various weather conditions.
  5. Allow your teenager to practice driving with other kids in the car while you’re present. It’s one thing to learn to drive, but another to drive with the distraction of friends or siblings.
  6. Teach your teenager how to check the air pressure in the tires at home as well as at a local Discount Tire.
  7. Show your teenager how to pump gas.
  8. Call your car insurance provider and check into the cost of adding a teen driver to your policy. There may be adjustments they can make to help lower your premiums. Okay, that’s really a tip for preparing YOU for a teenage driver, but it’s a good idea to get this taken care of early on in the process.

In addition to all that, Discount Tire has a great list of tire safety tips that you might find helpful. I didn’t know half of these! And if you have a new teen driver in your life, you might want to take a minute and share this instructional video.

Discount Tire sent us a tire pressure gauge as a part of this program, so my husband took our son outside this morning and taught him how to check the tire pressure on our car.

Tips for Preparing for a Teenage Driver

This is actually not the car my son will be learning to drive with. My husband’s car, a 10-year-old sedan, is in the shop getting a tuneup at the moment, but it will most likely be passed down to our son at some point, so it’s the one he’ll learn to drive on. You better believe I’m not teaching him on MY pride and joy! Ha!

If any of you veteran parents out there have any more tips for us as we prepare to teach our son to drive, I’d love to hear them! Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.

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25 thoughts on “Preparing for a Teenage Driver

  1. My best advice, heart-throttling though it may be, is to rip off that bandaid. Help him complete the driver’s ed and get the learner’s permit ASAP and then designate your teen as your family’ s chauffeur. He’s driving the family to church; he’s driving himself (and you) to band practice and home again, he’s driving you to the gym after school and home again, he’s spending his Saturday mornings doing all of the errands with you. Need a gallon of milk? Get in the car, son, we’re going to the grocery store. Daughter needs to be picked up from soccer? Here are the keys, bring your homework, you’re driving me to the field, I’m going to watch your sister’s practice while you study and then you’re driving us home. Logistically it’s a pain in the rear, but 6 months of this and he will be more than ready for that road test. Fringe benefit, he’ll also be ware of and grateful for all the miles you put in on a weekly basis.

    Our state has a two-step licensing system. Teen drivers on the provisional license are not allowed to drive late night/early morning hours and cannot have other teens (except family members) in the car with them. If your state does not have a smilier system, you can institute one of your own, as my folks did. Only after several months of clean solo driving was I permitted to drive friends around.

    Good luck.

    1. Excellent advice, thank you! My mom did the same thing – I was not allowed to drive with friends in the car for quite a while, and then, maybe just one at first. It seems like common sense to me, but I guess not every parent thinks so, lol.

  2. I remember learning to drive my Mom got in the car with me and I hit the gas too hard and she was like forget it let your father teach you. I taught my sister in law to drive and I think the best way to do it is find a place that there won’t be a ton of traffic. We were lucky to do it at the shore in the winter so the roads were basically empty. Also being from Jersey no one ever taught me how to pump gas, it was really a shock when I had to pump my own gas for the first time.

    1. I can relate. Right after he got the learner’s permit, we had my now-19 year old drive us to dinner at our favorite outdoor cafe, which is located in a busy shopping area. When we finally got in to the restaurant the waiters gave my husband & I free beers. Watching us navigate the access road and the rotary and the angle parking was just *that* entertaining.

  3. my kids have been driving for years, and I still don’t like it!
    Always saying a prayer when they travel.
    good tips for drivers and good luck!

  4. Totally agree with Cathy’s suggestions. We are currently teaching our second son to drive. I have found it interesting to see the differences and similarities between he and his brother when it comes to learning to drive. 😉

    Our state also has very strict teen/provisional driver laws. I love that we are able to say, “Sorry, it’s the law. You’ve got to do it this way” rather than it being up to us to make the rules.

    It’s best to start in a parking lot as you mentioned. Then when you’re ready to move to roads, choose low-traffic times of day and areas that are not congested. And don’t forget getting in nighttime hours since so many things are different in the dark.

    One thing we’ve told them both many times is that while it’s important to learn how to drive properly there is often no way to predict what other drivers will do. Even when you’re obeying every law to the letter, other drivers don’t and you have to be alert and prepared to deal with their craziness. My husband’s advice that applies to many situations is “keep your head on a swivel”. LOL Basically, be alert and aware of your surroundings at all times.

  5. We bought our teens the safest car we could reasonably afford, a used Volvo sedan. We added them on our AAA roadside assistance plan so if they ever had a flat tire, accident, or other car trouble, they could call for help. Each of us has a small duffle bag in the car trunk that contains emergency supplies: jumper cables, “fix a flat”, flash light, water, gloves and hand warmers, safety flares, scraper, etc. We explained exactly what to do if ever in an accident. I know this sounds negative, but having car trouble is scary at any age, but terrifying for teen drivers who haven’t experienced it before. We thought providing a few safety nets might help. Our family has an app on our IPhones called “Find Friends” so we can easily see where our kids are if they call lost and don’t really know how to get where they are going. (This app can be turned off and on by the user) Both of our kids took driving lessons from a professional, but we practiced and rode with them a lot while they had their permits. We thought it was helpful for our kids to hear the rules and instruction from someone other than Mom and Dad…but that might just be our kids! When teaching them to merge on and off of freeways, we practiced at 6:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings (they didn’t love this idea) because there was so little traffic it was less stressful for all of us! Best of luck! It’s such a tough step, but once they are driving independently, it’s great!

  6. I swear, I wanted to carry a flask when teaching my two how to drive. LOL. A little bit of the recipe to calm mommy’s nerves. I agree with the above posts, but I also want to encourage you that if your kid has an anxious temperament, or has any sort of anxiety/autistic spectrum disorder, that s/he may need much more time before licensing. This is OK and not a blemish on their skill or your parenting. My daughter is two years younger than my son, but she was ready to drive sooner. He is still quite nervous and reactive, and finally, I just took the pressure off. When he’s ready, he’ll find me and we’ll practice again. Meanwhile, he takes the bus places he needs to be. Honestly, he was so nervous that I was scared for our safety, despite the number of hours we logged with him behind the wheel.

    The other thing is to REALLY impress upon them that their cell phones need to be in the glove box or the trunk.

    Lastly…that first fender bender will happen. I tried to tell myself that my daughter would remember our response for the rest of her life, so we had better pull it together and not have a cow. After all, the important thing was that she was okay and didn’t hurt anyone. 🙂 And get them right back on the road.

    Good luck. 🙂

  7. We are right behind you. Kids are eligible for Driver’s Ed at 14 yrs and 8 months, so my daughter takes it next summer. I have lots of friends who kids are learning now. It is so weird to see the kids that used to play in the neighborhood driving.

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