Summer break is over, and kids and teens throughout the Treasure Valley are going back to school. For some newly-licensed teens, this will be the first school year in which they are responsible for driving themselves to and from school.
IF YOU ARE THE PARENT OF A TEEN DRIVER WHO IS DRIVING THEMSELVES TO SCHOOL FOR THE FIRST TIME THIS SCHOOL YEAR, TEACH THEM THESE TIPS FOR A SAFE AND SUCCESSFUL SCHOOL YEAR:
- Allow for plenty of time to get to where they need to go. Being able to drive themselves to school may give them a little more time to sleep in and get ready for school in the morning because they won’t have to catch a bus or walk to get to school. However, they shouldn’t wait until the last minute to leave either. Sometimes unexpected things happen on the road -traffic jams, car accidents, etc.- and they will want to make sure they have enough time to get around these things and make it to school on time. They should allow themselves plenty of time to get from point A to point B for a less stressful start to their day.
- Wait until some traffic clears to leave school. Remind your teen that as a new driver, navigating a crowded parking lot and making their way around in heavy traffic may be a little more stressful than it is for seasoned drivers. When school first lets out, there is a rush of people trying to leave all at the same time, and it can be a bit hectic. Instead of rushing out, tell your teen to give it a few minutes. It is amazing how even after just five minutes the parking lot has cleared considerably and there will be less traffic for them to deal with. When they do this, they will spend less time sitting in their car in traffic and still make it home in nearly the same amount of time, but with considerably less stress.
- Avoid distracted driving! This goes for all drivers, even those with decades of experience. Your teen should never check their phone, eat, put on makeup, or check on homework assignments when they are behind the wheel. It is probably best if they also avoid listening to their music too loudly, and maybe plan a play list in advance so they aren’t fidgeting with the radio, taking their attention away from the road. Remember, a person need only be distracted for a moment for something to go horribly wrong, so even a quick glance at a phone or stereo is not as harmless as it may seem. This is especially true in crowded school traffic. Remind teens that they share the road with other motorists and sometimes pedestrians, and their life is not the only one at risk when they are behind the wheel. They need to keep the road a safe place and avoid distractions when they drive.
- Don’t allow them to drive friends around until they are more confident behind the wheel. Your teen will probably believe that it sounds fun to be able to drive their friends to school or bring them home after, however, as a new driver in uncharted territory, doing so could wind up being more of a distraction. They should wait a few weeks until they are more confident in their abilities before offering up rides to friends.
*Teens should also keep Idaho state laws in mind when it comes to transporting friends. Teens under 17 years old, can have only one passenger who is also under 17 years old unless that passenger is a member of their family. This restriction lasts for 6 months from the date they get their driver’s license. Teen’s under the age of 16 have additional rules to follow. They can drive alone ONLY during the day. At night, they can drive when accompanied by a licensed driver who is at least 21 years old and is sitting in the front passenger seat. They can have no passengers in the front seat other than the supervising driver.
- Keep the gas tank filled. Make sure your teen is keeping an eye on the gas gauge. It would make a rough start to their day if they wound up stranded on their way to school. Teach them to fill up after school when they realize the tank is low so that the vehicle is always ready in the mornings. Remind them that they should never wait until the tank hits empty to fill up, and should instead try and make it a habit of filling up when the tank is about a quarter full.
- Plan their route. They can avoid unwanted surprises their first time driving to school by planning in advance. Before school starts for the school year, let them take some time to learn traffic patterns and the best route from your home to the school parking lot. Maybe take a few practice trips with them so they are more confident in their route.
- Allow for room on the road. Your teen should keep in mind that a lot of the people they will be encountering on the drive to and from school are also new drivers, and some may be even less experienced than they are. They should allow themselves and all other motorists plenty of room to maneuver, park, and stop. Remind them to be patient with themselves and others.
- Keep it slow. Speeding is a factor in most accidents on the road, so remind your teen of the importance to only drive the posted speeds. They need to pay extra close attention to their speed in the school zones.
- Inspect the vehicle before school starts. Avoid a break down making your teen late for school and have their vehicle inspected before the school year begins. Make sure that no warning lights are illuminated, all the lights and wipers work, and check that the tires are in good condition and the right pressure. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
Your teen has reached a major milestone when they can drive their car to school for the first time! Congratulations! We hope that the above tips help them enjoy a safe and successful school year. If you need help making sure your teen’s vehicle is in its best shape, schedule an appointment with the experts at Meridian Automotive. We provide complete automotive repair in Meridian, Idaho, for most cars, light trucks, and SUV’s. For over 20 years we’ve been Meridian’s auto repair experts. Don’t just trust anyone with your automotive repair needs, trust the experts at Meridian Automotive. Call us today (208) 297-5573 or schedule an appointment online.