From Dr. Jane's Notebook
It's a funny thing about 15-year olds...they start to drive. Never have I felt so old
as when my daughter stripped me of my keys and opened the passenger door for me. It's just
another stage of life...but it does have the potential to drive you crazy! Parents often
have a hard time drawing boundaries when it comes to teenagers and the problem of driving
can make things worse. As such, I recommend the following strategy for survival when
you're no longer "behind the wheel".
- Teach your children how to drive. It sounds silly but this is one area where they are
willing to learn. Too often, parents rely of driver's education professionals. Driver's
education is excellent training, but it just begins there. Kids need to learn how to think
behind the wheel, and you must teach them about that, and as well as help them gain
- Brush up on your familiarity with the laws. The only thing that's worse than no
information, is the wrong information! Take time to read through the driving manual with
your teenager so that you can hold informed discussions about the laws.
- Establish some guidelines for use of the car. Cars offer new found freedom, and they
need to come with some rules. Talk about use of seatbelts, smoking while driving, the
hazards of distraction, and personal safety issues. Teenagers have the highest accident
rates. This is a serious subject.
- Teach kids about defensive driving. It is not only important for them to be in control
of the car, but to anticipate the actions of other drivers. Teach children how to
anticipate the mistakes of other drivers, such as running red lights, changing lanes
unexpectedly, and weather hazards. As a driver yourself, you have accumulated years of
driving rules for yourself, based upon all those years of experience. Bring them into
conscious awareness and share the benefits of your knowledge.
- Remember that you are their role model. Parents who want their kids to drive safely must
realize that they are constant serving as role models. If you speed, run red lights, cut
off other drivers or drink behind the wheel, you can count of seeing these behaviors in
your young driver. They are always taking note of our actions. On the other hand, if you
are overly cautious to the point of irritation, they may become rebellious drivers just to
While driving is serious business, it can also be alot of fun. It is a joy to watch
your child mature, to feel your nerves calm down over those long and grueling test drives,
and to test your patience in this new and challenging way. For a short while, our children
really want us to be in the car (while they only have a driver's permit). Take a year to
bask in the popularity!
ęCopyright, 1995, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.
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Last Updated October 18, 1998 by Gary M. Grandon,