A Mom’s Manual for Teen Drivers by Sharon O’Donnell

Okay, this is a work in progress — but for all those moms who have teen drivers — or heck even drivers in their 20s — here are some basic guidelines I want to give my own children who are navigating the roads. A Mom’s Manual for Teen Drivers:

1. Wear your seat belt and have everyone in your car do so too.
2. Always check your blind spot — even if you are sure there is nothing near you.
3. Don’t speed, especially on two lane, curvy roads and especially at night.
4. Be patient. If you are making a left-hand turn or pulling out into a road in traffic, don’t take any chances — even if the person behind you blows the horn. Imagine
me sitting there beside you.
5. Do not text, talk on the phone, play with your I-pod, radio or any other device. If you need to talk or text, pull into a parking lot and do so. If there is someone with you,
ask them to text for you if absolutely needed.
6. If you are trying to merge into another lane and a car (or cars) in the lane you need to get in maintains a fast speed and doesn’t let you in, don’t try to speed up and get around him (or her); slow down, make sure your signal is on and get into the lane in front of someone else. If for some reason you can’t get in the lane, don’t worry about it. Go to the next road, exit, or place to
turn around and come back to where you need to be. Play it safe.
7. Don’t take turns too sharp or too fast.
8. Take right turns when you can instead of left-turns
9. Don’t become distracted by a passenger in your car.
10. If you are going somewhere you’ve never been, plan out your route ahead of time.
11. When backing up, make sure the area directly behind your car is clear.
12. Don’t follow another vehicle too closely.
13. When it rains or has rained recently, drive below the speed limit and allow more space than usual between you and the car in front.
14. When backing out of a parking space, go slowly, especially if your vision is obstructed by other vehicles. Edge out slowly and look both ways to make sure the way is clear.
15. Being nice in traffic is good in instances like slowing down a bit to let someone merge in front of you. However, sometimes being nice in certain situations only makes things more complicated
and dangerous. Such as, if someone is trying to turn across two or more lanes of traffic and the traffic from the other direction is moving slowly. Some drivers coming from the
opposite direction might decide to stop so that the car that wants to turn can go across the traffic — however — there is more than one lane of traffic, and cars in the other lane might not
stop. I’ve seen people do this and the turning car begins to cross the two lanes of traffic and almost gets hit by a car in the second lane or the turning car ends up blocking traffic. Sometimes stopping to let people out in traffic can create more problems. Please think.
16. Make sure you know how to use the windshield defroster and defogger. Make sure your windshield wipers work properly.
17. Don’t drive past midnight. Too many accidents occur in the wee morning hours — many of them are alcohol-related.
18. Speaking of which, don’t ever drive if you have been drinking — and don’t ever ride with anyone who has been drinking either.
19. Don’t drive when you are tired or sleepy. If you are driving, and you feel sleepy — Don’t keep on driving. Stop and walk around, get something to eat, etc. Tell someone else in the car if you are sleepy. The sleepiness will come back, so if you are driving alone on long stretches of highway, EXIT and get off the road. Take a nap in a McDonald’s parking lot. Don’t continue to drive.
20. And yes, the tool that I gave you that breaks windshields in case your car ever goes under water and cuts seat belts if you are ever trapped — keep it in your car. Just do it. For my peace of mind.

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