Each year, more than 5,000 teens are killed in car accidents. As fathers, one of the scariest things we do is put our kids behind the wheel and send them off on their own. Here are seven essential things every young driver must know before getting behind the wheel.
Check The Oil Regularly
A car’s engine can be destroyed if it’s driven without oil. It’s not obvious when a car is low on oil, and by the time the warning light comes on, it may be too late to correct it. There are lots of reasons why a car may get low on oil in between the normal three-month oil changes. Teach your teen to check the level of oil in the car at least once a week and show him or her how to top it off if it’s low.
Know The Maintenance Schedule
The three-month oil change is just part of the car’s maintenance schedule. A car needs a regular check-up to keep in tip-top condition, just like a person needs an annual check-up with a doctor. The maintenance includes changing the air filter, rotating the tires, changing the fluids, changing the spark plugs, and getting a tune-up.
Check Tire Pressure
Teach your teen to check tire pressure and how to put air in the tires. She should know when to replace her tires. The e-commerce site TireBuyer has a Learning Center that is an excellent educational resource for your teen when it comes to identifying worn tread and knowing when tires need to be replaced. Teach her to refer to these resources any time she has a question about her tires.
Prepare for Emergencies
Every driver should carry an emergency kit for car trouble on the road. The kit should include equipment for changing a tire, a plastic jug of water for the radiator, a flashlight, road flares, a cell phone charger, a fully charged disposable cell phone, a blanket, a coat, and drinking water.
Never Text and Drive
This is a given. Always. Teach this rule from the first driving lesson. Discourage talking on a cell phone while driving unless it is an emergency. Educate them on how many people are killed every year from driving distractions (1,060 per day, according to the CDC).
Don’t Drive When You’re Sleepy
Driving while tired can be just as bad as driving drunk. If your teen is having trouble staying awake, he shouldn’t drive. If he’s already behind the wheel, he should pull over somewhere safe and with good lighting and take a nap before continuing his drive.
Always Use Your Turn Signal
The turn signal lets other drivers know when you’ll be turning or changing lanes. This gives them time to slow down or adjust their own driving strategy to accommodate you. Many accidents could have been avoided with the use of the turn signal. Teach your teen to use it even if she doesn’t see any other cars around her. It will get her in the habit of using it every time she changes the location of her car while driving.