Teaching your teen
Checking the oil
Windshield wiper fluid
Insurance and ownership
Stopping on the road
Your baby is no longer a baby. They’re a fully licensed driver and they want your keys.
Driver training programs specifically targeted to the teen or young driver are the most effective way to get instruction on the fundamentals of how to drive, and how to prepare to pass a licensing test. But what about the things they don’t teach in every driving school? Make sure your teenager is armed with the information and safety tips they need before you hand over the keys.
Gas gauges are an important instrument to watch, for the obvious reason that running out of gas can not only be inconvenient, but also potentially a safety hazard depending on where the car is when it happens. Your teen should know how many litres the tank holds, and what the approximate distance it can go on a tank is (some cars calculate this for you, but they’re not always 100 percent accurate so don’t count on that entirely.) Encourage them to never run on less than a quarter of a tank. It’s also a good idea to show them how to fill up at gas station.
When the oil light comes on, it’s an indication that you need to check and likely change your oil as soon as possible. Reinforce that you need to be notified immediately if this happens, not after they’ve driven around with their friends for a few hours. Teaching your teen to check the oil on a regular basis isn’t a bad idea either.
Running out of wiper fluid during a dirty winter day when the windscreen is rendered useless for vision is a road danger. Other debris and liquids, which land on the car in other seasons, are also a safety hazard, so make sure your teen knows to keep the washer fluid topped up, how to do it, and to keep an extra jug in the car somewhere.
Feet first! Make sure that your teen is not wearing sky-high heels or wedges that will make it difficult to get from the accelerator to the brake pedal. Driving barefoot is not illegal in Canada, but can compromise your safety, according to the Canada Safety Council, which also offers a list of the best types of driving shoes.
In the case of an accident, obviously the first call is to 9-1-1 if there is physical injury. But in a “fender bender” situation, make sure your child knows what questions to ask and how to exchange appropriate insurance and driver license information before leaving the scene. Check your province’s guidelines for reporting accidents, as they do vary. Print off instructions for each vehicle.
Most teens learn to drive on automatic transmission cars, but they may find themselves in a situation where the only vehicle available is a manual (or stick shift). If you have access to a manual car, or can purchase a lesson through a driver-training program, it’s worth doing.
The insurance certificate and government issued ownership certificate for your vehicle, should always be in the vehicle, or in the driver’s wallet. This is essential if you are pulled over by a law enforcement official (tickets will be issued if missing), or in the case of an accident. Make sure to have information on how to make a claim handy. You should also go over what to do if your child is ever pulled over.
If the car should break down for any reason, make sure your teen knows to pull over to the nearest shoulder and immediately call your roadside assistance program, tow-truck company or insurance provider to advise on who can come and help. Make sure they know to reinforce that they only get out of the vehicle if they are sure it is safe to do so.
If your teen has learned to drive in the other three seasons, make sure to take them out at the first snowfall to test their skills and reinforce how to drive safely, particularly the basics of driving slower and leaving more space. Many driving schools offer special winter driving programs, which could be considered.