The first time my son got behind the wheel, I felt no apprehension whatsoever. He’s always been a cautious rule follower and I expected no less when he was sitting in the driver’s seat. Our first trip started off innocently enough and then he started veering off the road. Then he overcorrected and we slammed into a barrier. And he continued to laugh and laugh and laugh.
Thank God that was only at the Tomorrowland Speedway in Disney’s Magic Kingdom. He was a horrible driver and thought it was all too funny to keep hitting the “barrier” that keeps the car on track. Needless to say, it had me thinking about the driving years that were still ahead of us.
What worries me is not just the normal parenting worries of teens who have to learn not only driving skills but also common sense and judgment. It’s the fact that driver’s education is no longer offered as part of the school curriculum. If Evan wants to learn how to drive, I have to pay for a driving school and supplement that with my own skills and knowledge.
It makes me wonder if driving is a necessary skill for teens today. For me, it was part of our standard 10th grade curriculum. We had one course that was divided into thirds: Health, Driver’s Ed, and PE. And frankly, the only one I liked was Driver’s Ed. Our teacher was a bit of a crackpot who pretty much liked to tell it like it was. And when he wasn’t teaching, he was scaring the crap out of us with the films he showed.
Photo credit: Canadian Pacific
Let’s reminisce about one dark night in a van similar to the one above. All I remember is that the film seemed very 1970s-ish with all the girls in long, ruffly prom gowns. As you might imagine, a large group of teens piled into the back of a van just like this one (except it was blue – odd how I remember that) and there was much drinking, laughing, and, of course, unsafe driving.
In an effort to see if I could find an image or clip from this film, I stumbled across many of the “driving and dying” PSAs of the past few decades. As with then, they still scare the crap out of me. I was not one of those teens that felt invincible.
I was a careful driver and, for the most part, I still am. Sometimes I drive too fast but not unreasonably so. And sometimes I make the mistake of picking up my phone in the car (bad, bad, bad). And I know that everything I’m doing now, as a driver, will have an impact on my son as he gets ready for those days. I know because I learned most of my driving habits simply from being in the car with my mom.
In addition to driving, kids need to learn about basic car maintenance. Things like filling up the gas tank (oh yes, there are plenty that don’t know how), how to check the oil, how to refill windshield washer fluid, how to check the tire pressure, how to add air to your tires, and even checking the tread on your tires.
Wait a minute… these are things YOU know how to do, right?
Click on image to download this as a handy PDF!
This is just one of the resources Michelin is offering to drivers, especially teen drivers. Automobile accidents are the number one killer of teens in the United States and around half of all parents and teens don’t think that driver’s ed adequately prepares them for the road.
If you’re looking for more resources for you and your teen to think Beyond the Driving Test, I encourage you to check out Michelin’s resources (including an awesome video on exactly how to check your tire’s tread with good ol’ Abe Lincoln). Because, trust me, those prom night films from my driver’s ed days will only scar your children for life.
This post was written as part of a compensated opportunity from SheBuysCars and Michelin as part of their Safe Driving initiative. All opinions and ridiculous stories are my own.