It is a perilous moment when you turn the family car over to your newly licensed son or daughter.
If it helps, take solace in the statistic that brand new drivers actually get in fewer accidents than kids who have been driving for a year. The reason? They're so scared they pay close attention to the road.
But it's still a moment of danger. Here's a checklist of points to make clear. You can't say them all - no young person will stand still that long. But pick the ones that seem most relevant to where your son or daughter is right now:
- Minimize distractions. It feels glamorous to be on the phone or listening to music while you drive. But experts say distracted behavior causes at least as many serious injuries as drinking. Multitasking kills. If you need to make or pick up a call, pull into a parking lot, and then do it.
- Take special care after dark. Pennsylvania bans driving after 11 p.m. for new drivers. The reason is that more drunks are out at night, and it is harder to see and identify dangers in the dark.
- 'Everyone exceeds the speed limit.' There is truth to this. But make a rule for yourself: I won't be the driver pulled over for speeding. The penalties are exorbitant and humiliating. Worst scenario: your speeding ruins someone else's life. Make a deal that your son or daughter will pay any fines themselves.
- Keep your distance. Tailgating annoys others and increases the likely of rear-ending someone.
- Pay attention to the vehicle. If a light goes on, know what it means. Report back to your parents about it, before the car suffers damage. Check your fuel gauge. Every time you get into the car, take a look at the tires; low air pressure makes steering impossible. Don't drive without windshield washer. Keep your windshield and mirrors clean.
- Be cool. Don't take other drivers' behavior personally. Road rage happens because people forget to drive empathetically. If the other driver cuts you off, that's their problem.
- No! Make plain that you will not tolerate alcohol while your child is driving your car.
- Watch the skies. If weather is bad - driving rain, blizzard, fog, lightning - get off the road. It's always wise to have emergency items in the car - food, blankets, a scraper.
- Use your brain or risk losing it. Fastening seat belts is the absolute least you can do to drive safely. Be smart. Think how your life may be affected if you sustain even a minor brain or head injury on the road.
- Final thing. Before they drive away, remind them that you love them. Because -- who knows?