For Safer Teen Drivers, Read This Before Handing Over the Keys

Moms are the ones who usually cart kids around from school to scouts to baseball. More often than not, these women take responsibility for the repair and maintenance of their vehicles. But what happens when the kids grow out of the backseat and into the driver's seat? Who's looking after their vehicles?

Automotive preventive maintenance and repair knowledge is like algebra, says the Car Care Council. We're not born knowing it, it has to be learned. Teach your young drivers the basics about their cars before they get the keys. If you don't know much about automotive maintenance/ repair, do yourself a favor and learn it along with your kids. Here are a few tips:

  • Explain that all cars, new and old, need regular attention. Make sure your teenager knows and follows the maintenance schedule for his/her car. In addition to making a car safe to drive, preventive maintenance can save thousands of dollars during a lifetime of driving.
  • Don't overlook the owner's manual. This is full of information about the car that your young driver may never know unless he/she is familiar with this automotive bible.
  • Make it fun. There are myriad sites on the Internet that are fascinating for young and old drivers, alike. Some have Q & A sections. Let your teen send his/her tough questions to the professionals.
  • It's probably been a while since they went on a field trip. Take them with you to the repair facility, the tire store, the body shop and wherever you have automotive work performed. Get them accustomed to the automotive world-its people, places, jargon and prices.
  • There are hundreds of books available on this subject. Many are written specifically for non-technical audiences; some are even humorous. Buy a few and make them required reading for the licensing process.
  • Make a plan. What happens if the car breaks down, he/she has a wreck, or the car gets stolen? What if no adults are home to receive the panic call? Whether you want your teenager to call your family repair facility or Aunt Sadie, give them some instruction and put important phone numbers in the glove compartment.

For many parents, driving age is the final frontier. Certainly it is an important rite of passage for teenagers. Don't let your child pass into this stage of his/her life without being prepared. Take the time and the necessary materials to make your young driver feel competent and secure.