The only thing scarier than when your teen first drives is when your grandchildren become teen drivers and get behind the wheel. Here are my tips for teen drivers, from mom to grandmom, beyond the driving test.
When your Grandkids become Teen Drivers
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Being a Mom is the most rewarding and hardest life lesson I’ve ever learned and I lived to tell the tales. I was a really young parent, in my early 20s, and unfortunately became a single mom when my daughters were still toddlers. I thought working full time, changing diapers, and balancing the whole “I’m single and I’m a Mom” was difficult enough to handle.
But then boom, here comes those teenage years when Mom became the taxi driver, hauling my daughters (and their friends) to sports games, school activities, movies, special events – oh my! I thought the answer to my prayers would be when my oldest daughter finally earned her driver’s license, and I could sit back and let her rack up the miles. Boy, was I wrong.
Driving tips for grand-teens
The memories of raising teenagers are really a blur, but I do remember clearly my oldest daughter’s excitement when she brought home her driver’s license and got behind the wheel BY HERSELF for the first time. What I remember most about that moment is my stress level elevated to an all-time high worrying about keeping them safe when driving. It’s difficult to let go of your kids at any age, but to see them drive off and consider all the terrible possibilities, well, that’s mind-blowing.
Somehow, I lived through those teen driving years. But wait there’s more! Fast forward nearly 16 years to my now blended family of four daughters, today I’m also a grandmother (Grammie) to six grandchildren (ages 1 year to 12 years), who will, in a blink of an eye, become driving teenagers! Be still my heart!
7 Safe Driving Tips for my Grandchildren
For my grandchildren, I offer these safe driving tips from my experience with my teen daughters (your mothers):
1. Listen to your Mom.
Yeah, I can see the rolling eyes already, but seriously, Moms nag because Moms love you to the moon and back and always, no matter what, and we want to keep you around forever.
2. Practice, practice, practice and take a Driver’s Education Class.
Once you get your permit, you’ll be required to rack hours (varies from state to state – here’s Colorado, ) behind the wheel with an adult in the passenger seat. Your Mom had to do that too, but take it seriously. Show Mom that you ARE a good driver. If you have the opportunity, take a Driver’s Education Class. Learning from someone who is not your family (and won’t get all stressed out or raise their voice or ground you) will be invaluable.
3. Don’t text and drive.
Don’t text and drive, and let’s take the Red Thumb Pledge together that none of us will text and drive. Okay? By the way, when your Mom was growing up, she carried a pager. (Don’t know what that is? Google it!) That was my way of keeping tabs on her. Just remember, your safety is all we care about.
4. Limit Passengers in your car.
Your Mom was only allowed to drive her sister around and ONE friend. It may sound mean, but I didn’t want her to be distracted nor swayed by her passengers. I hope she keeps the same rules for you.
5. Learn how to maintain your own car.
Your Great Grandpa is a now retired mechanic, and before I was allowed to drive off in my own car, Papa made me change and rotate all four tires. I checked tire pressure. He also showed me how to check my oil and connect cables to jumpstart my battery. I was annoyed at him, and I likely rolled my eyes at him. Your Mom wasn’t too happy with me when I expected her to do the same, and I’m betting you’ll have that same attitude. But really it’s kind of cool to know what to do with your car if something happens.
6. When driving (and anytime), check in with your Mom often.
Each time your Mom got behind the wheel, I worried every single minute. Check in with your Mom often. Your parents pay for your phone. Use it. Send her a text (not when you’re behind the wheel!), give her a call. It’ll make her feel so much better, and you’ll be surprised at how much more she’ll trust your judgment when you do this.
7. P.S. Check in and call your Grammie too.
Call me to say hi. Drive your car to my house. When you stop by, I’ll let you drive and treat you to lunch or dinner. I’ll even give you gas money. Yep, I’m that kind of awesome Grammie.
Beyond the Driving Test: Michelin and FIA Step Up Awareness
This is why we worry. The statistics are all too real, and Michelin does a great job of opening the conversation about teen drivers: Automobile accidents are the No. 1 killer of teens in America, with 5,000 deaths each year. What’s more, of the 2.2 million accidents per year among inexperienced drivers, 12 percent can be attributed to tire related issues, such as insufficient tread or pressure. Even so, few driver’s education programs offer instruction on tire maintenance and safety.
Because many of these accidents are preventable, Michelin and FIA have joined together to launch a new campaign, Beyond the Driving Test, to raise awareness of tire maintenance and safety. This will make available resources designed to initiate conversation between parents and teens, and among teen drivers and their peers. They also recently announced the winner of a $100,000 Michelin/FIA Teen Road Safety Grant: ADTSEA (the American Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association). The two organizations will also be working with national groups and state organizations to meet the goal of having all 50 states include some form of tire safety information in their individual driver’s education curricula by 2020.
Grandkids: enjoy your teen years
One final word to my grandchildren, as your parents and I start nudging you out of the nest: have fun. Enjoy your teenage years. Cherish every moment, and before you know it (but not before your well into your 20s), you’ll have your own children. Feel free to share the above safe driving tips for your teens!
Now for a fun look at the Grandkids first Driving School: LEGOLAND California:
Disclosure: I am participating in a SheBuysCars sponsored promotion to give you fine folks the scoop on Michelin Tire’s Beyond the Driving Test safety initiative.