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Handing your child a set of car keys is one of the scariest parent milestones! When your teen starts driving, they think “FREEDOM!” and are ready to tackle the open roads. You are thinking insurance rates, car repair costs and suddenly remembering every horror story you’ve ever heard and every crazy thing you ever did as a teen with a car, in a car, near a car. Letting them get behind the wheel is rough!
A safe car is a good start!
If you are buying them a car or helping them pick out a car they are buying with their money, there are a few things to think about. Do you want them to have a smaller car that’s easier to maneuver? Do you want them to have a larger car or a “tank” so you feel they are safer if someone hits them? Are there any recalls on the make and model you are looking at? How long are these cars known to run? (I’m convinced my Honda is going to run forever. Just about to hit 200,000 miles.) An often over looked question is how much are parts to repair a certain make and model? Quick example: An alternator for a 2006 Honda Civic is $115. An alternator for a 2002 Volvo S80 is $377. Does it come with a warranty? For how long and what does it cover? Side note: University Motor Company offers a 30 day warranty on all their cars.
Whether it’s a new car, “new to you” car or it’s been in the family for years, make sure it’s up to date on all maintenance and in good working order. It will alleviate some of your anxiety. Do the tires still have a good amount of tread? Has the oil been changed recently? Are the belts in good shape? Do all the lights work?
Teach what to do when things go wrong!
This may be one of my biggest pet peeves. Please make sure before your kid starts driving that they have a basic understanding of car maintenance and repair. Now they don’t need to know how to replace brake calipers. But my personal list is:
How to change a tire
When and how to put air in a low tire
How to check the oil
What all the lights on the dashboard mean
What to do if the car starts to overheat
How to jump start the car
But they can just call AAA or Roadside Assistance? Well if they have cell service and a phone that’s not dead, yes. They can call mom, dad, AAA, etc. However, they should still have a basic understanding of what’s wrong and what to do. Not only could they lose service or have a dead phone, roadside assistance could take hours to get there.
Moms, I’m talking to you too for a minute. You need to know these things. Legit example. One night when the big kids were little, we had a tire blow out on the interstate. It was cold and very dark. I called roadside assistance, but they were backed up and couldn’t get there for about 2 hours. Especially since it was the passenger side and I was less likely to get run over, I chose to change the tire myself and get the kids and I back on the road to home over waiting in a less than pleasant situation.
Teach what to do when things REALLY go wrong!
God forbid your child gets in an accident. They need to know what to do and how to handle it. It’s not a bad idea to set up a meeting with your insurance agent where you can all sit down and discuss who to call after an accident. They can also tell you what information you get from the other driver, the police, etc. It’s also not a bad idea to go over some basic first aid. I know it’s a scary thing to think about! It’s better to be prepared and not need it …
Teach what to do during a traffic stop!
Did anyone see the episode of “Live PD” a few weeks ago where they pulled over the woman in the Rush’s parking lot on Broad River Rd? They were stopping her to let her know NONE of the lights on the back of her car were working. This woman got 17 kinds of belligerent that they even dared to pull her over before she even knew why. Don’t be that woman. Teach them the basics. Pull over safely. Hands on the steering wheel. Follow directions. Be polite.
Set a good example!
Even before they get that treasured license in their hands, set a good example for them when you are driving. Trust me. They ARE watching. Don’t text and drive. Don’t “check your phone” and drive. Get out of the way of emergency vehicles. And move over when a cop has someone stopped on the side of the road.
It’s OK, Mamas! You will survive this!
What are some other things you’ve had come up as your teen starts driving? What are some things you wonder about as you approach the “OMGah my kid starts driving soon” season?