When it comes to teaching our kids, we know there are the basic things like eating, walking, tying our shoes (although I confess – my kids learned this in what teens won't learn in drivers edschool and perfected it at home) and flushing after you use the bathroom. But when it comes to driving, what about those “other” things? Those little random things that no one ever thinks of until you actually need them? Real world lessons that you use practically very day of your life?

I’m not sure what drivers ed is like in your area, but here the teens take drivers ed when they’re 14 ½ and then they’re able to get their permit when they’re 15. That’s really, really young in my opinion so it makes it even more important that they learn ALL there is to know about driving. Drivers ed thru the school gives them the basics (or as Chuck Hawks at TDSS says, they teach them enough to pass the test) of driving but definitely not the real life skills most of us have to learn on the fly. Here are some of the ones that I, sadly, learned too late in life. (Well, not too late as in after I died, but a lot later than I would have liked to. )

Five things to teach your teen before they get their license:

How to change a tire – Please don’t send your kids out with that brand new license if they don’t know how to change a tire. Mackenzie had the chance to learn some vehicle maintenance when we went to Teen Driving Solutions last month and I was a proud mama when she was the ONLY teen there who even knew where the spare tire was! If you think they can just call you or AAA, all I can say is, unlike mine, your kids must keep their cell phones fully charged and they’d be able to actually CALL in an emergency, but if that isn’t an issue then it’s also worthwhile teaching them when it might be a better idea to call the likes of auto repair shops in Arvada CO, or similar locations, instead of potentially causing more damage to their vehicle. And have you ever noticed that if it’s an emergency, there’s little to no cell coverage? Do us all a favor and make sure they know HOW to do it just in case they need to. Of course it’s important to teach any driver maintenance in case they’re in a situation where they have to do it, but it’s best to avoid this situation. Installing an hour meter from sites like Alion enables you to see the running time of your vehicle, and therefore decide when your vehicle needs professional maintenance service. This way, the likelihood of needing to do the maintenance yourself decreases.

What to do if they get pulled over – Let’s face it, our teens can be mouthy. Mine have reduced me to the level of a slobbering, fuming fool at times but for the most part I know that they know how to behave around “other” adults. But the one time that NONE of us should be mouthy is if and when we get pulled over by the police. Teach your teens what to do if this happens. Hands on the steering wheel, stay calm, listen to what they say to you, follow their instructions, say “yes sir/ma’am” and “no sir/ma’am”. Please and thank you. And that is it. Speak when spoken to and do what they tell you. By the same token, you should also teach them what is acceptable behavior FROM law enforcement.

What side the gas tank is on – Again… another important tidbit in life that I didn’t learn until I was in my late 30s!! The Rooster gets credit of this critical tidbit of information. And you know what? I teach people this all. the. time. I just taught Kim last month and he’s WAY older than me. Check out the picture to this photo of 2 gas gauges. In the first photo, see where the arrow is? It’s on the left of the gas pump. That means the gas tank is on the DRIVERS side. In the next picture, the arrow is on the right -that means your gas tank is on the PASSENGERS side. Knowing this little trick will save you that whole “which side is the gas tank on” debate. Golden information, no?


Know how to get around – I swear since we’ve been able to access directions on our iPhones and Droids, we’ve become stupid with directions. There have been so many times that I’ve Googled directions “just to be sure” I was going the right way and it took me around my butt to get to my nose. Only because I knew where I was going did I actually get there but it wasn’t without second guessing myself. Teach your kids how to navigate around their own town before they get behind a wheel. See if they can tell you how to get from home to the school or to their best friends house and then build on that as they get older and closer to getting their license.

How to use a blinker – Ermagawd this drives me out of my mind. Blinkers were not created to tell YOU where you’re going. They were created to tell ME where you’re going. My kids have heard me say this so many times, they say it before I do now. I know it seems silly but it’s right up there in my top driving pet peeves. It stuns me the number of people who don’t use them. They’re for safety, people. Use them.