Teach the Way of the Road Early With Your Automotive

Where did all these bad drivers come from? On my drive into work today I decided to turn off the radio, sit back and soak in the morning. I have a 30-minute trip, so it’s a nice time to think and meditate. The closer to Springfield I get, the more traffic there is on the road. I couldn’t help but think, where do all these bad drivers come from and what caused them to be poor drivers?

Let’s be honest, everyone knows a certain person they don’t enjoy riding with. There is just something about when they drive it isn’t smooth, they never know the direct route, they camp in the fast lane, or maybe it feels tense because they are uncomfortable. They may never have had a wreck, but they seem to lack the natural knack for driving.

A man reads a book while driving down Glenstone Ave. Pay attention to your surroundings because distracted drivers are everywhere.

I think this problem is created when people don’t grow up in a good “driving atmosphere”. It’s important to start helping your kids from the time they are out of a car seat. I have nothing scientific, just my honest opinion. I’ve come up with some simple ideas that can create better drivers for our future generations.

 -Think about how you want them to drive one day. Everyone learns by example.  If kids experience their parents rolling through stop signs, yelling at other drivers, texting, slamming on the brakes, etc, they will most likely pick up on the same poor habits. Be cautious and change your driving style if you need to.

-Don’t let them watch movies or play on an Ipad all the time. Have your kids pay attention. Explain to them what you’re doing when you are doing it, and why. You can make a game out of learning all the traffic signs and their meanings. Show them the rules of the road, so when they turn 16 it is already common knowledge.

-Incorporate a map (a real map, not a cell phone GPS). This will help kids develop a sense of direction. Knowing north, south, east and west is very useful in life. Using a map will also help them become familiar with your area so they can learn points of interest and where the neighboring towns are located.

-Teach kids about the car. Show them how to turn on the wipers, lights, and turn signals and explain what each foot pedal does. Let them put the car in drive or reverse when they are in the passenger seat. Explain how to read the gauges and use all the other controls.

Teach them basic maintenance steps, such as checking the oil and tire pressures. Your owner’s manual is also useful, you may even learn something new too!

-Be smooth. When I started driving, my Dad’s first piece of advice was to “be smooth”. Go easy on the accelerator and easy on the brake to make passengers feel at ease. Anticipate stops, because slamming on the brakes isn’t always necessary.

Make turns at the correct speed, because being thrown against the door is uncomfortable for others. Driving smoothly is also better for your car, saving you money on repairs in the long run.

-Have your kids tell you how to get where you’re going. This can be really fun for them. You can always explain why a different route would be best. By having your kids tell you where to turn, they also become familiar with the street names.

Take them to the go-kart track. Not every kid gets a chance to drive a 4 wheeler, motorcycle or farm truck around a pasture. Take them to the go-kart track when they are tall enough. It will give them a feel for operating a car. Doing things hands-on is a great way to learn. Even letting them drive the lawnmower is good practice.

-Teach them to be aware of their surroundings. Inform them of the parts of town they want to stay away from. On the highway explain what the mile markers are and how they are helpful in an emergency.

There are so many ways to prepare kids before they get their drivers to permit, so take initiative early. Communicate with them and create that good “driving atmosphere”. This will help you feel confident when they get behind the wheel.

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