Twelve Things to Teach Your Teens Before They Get Their License

By Kristen Daukus (Four Hens and a Rooster)

When it comes to teaching our kids, we know there are the basic things like eating, walking, tying our shoes 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?

Did you know that around here teens can take drivers ed when they’re as young as 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 through 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. )


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. 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. 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.

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.

gas-gaugesWhat side the gas tank is on – Again… another important tidbit in life that I didn’t learn until I was in my late 30s!! And you know what? I teach people this all. the. time. Check out the 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.

Don’t block the box – If you’ve ever driven in New York City or any other major city, you’ve definitely seen this sign. What it means is unless you can clear the intersection and not get stuck in the middle, STAY BEHIND THE LINE AT THE LIGHT! You’re really not getting there any faster by nudging you and your car into the intersection. The least thing that will happen is you’ll tick off every driver around you (who now cannot go) and the worst thing? You’ll get t-boned. Neither are good options. Don’t block the box.

After you! Letting someone else go in front of you is not going to cost you a lot of time and it will reward you on your do-goods for the day. I can’t tell you how many times I have almost run off the road at the end of a ramp because some stupid yahoo couldn’t (ahem – wouldn’t) let me in. Because me getting in front of you is going to be the deal breaker in you getting home to that steak dinner. You say ‘damn Yankees’ but up north, every car lets one car in front of them that is merging off (or on) the highway. We’re all in this commute thing together. Help a sister or brother out, would you?

tailgatingDon’t be a tool and tailgate – How many of us have had some guy (or gal) riding our tail and wished that we were driving a total beater so that we could just lock up our breaks and let them eat our muffler? No one? Just me? Seriously.. next to the weavers, tailgaters are the pond scum of the highway and deserve any and all tickets and accidents that come their way. There is just no reason for it and it never ends well.

Another reason not to ride someone’s tail – Carjackings seemed to be much worse about 10 years ago, but they still happen everywhere. One way to reduce the chances of this happening to you is not to pull all the way up to the bumper of the person in front of you when you come to a light. Always leave space in front of you in case somebody tries to carjack you. This space could mean the difference between you being able to get out of a bad situation and not.

Plan accordingly – No matter where you are going, most likely it’s going to take you 10 minutes longer to get there than you think. Plan ahead and don’t be late.

Who’s on empty? When it comes to your gas tank, you should get in the mindset that a quarter of a tank is like an empty tank. When that needle hits ¼ tank – stop and get gas. If you don’t get gas when it’s at a quarter tank, then without a doubt, as soon as the light comes on you need to stop at the next gas station you see. I promise you that you will learn this lesson the first time you have to walk to a gas station to get gas. And don’t give me the AAA crap. Please.

Always check the backseat before you get in the car – Have you ever watched a scary movie and the person is oblivious and walking out to their car, they put their key in the door, get in, start driving and suddenly some crazy-ass lunatic pops out of the backseat? Uhm.. yeah.. it only takes one second to glance in the back window and see if there’s a giant, breathing lump back there. And if there is? Run like the wind. But run in zigzags because knives, bears and bullets don’t travel in a straight line. Just saying…

No hitchhiking – This one is simple – Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever stop and let someone in your car that you don’t know. And I would even question letting someone you didn’t know really well in your car. There’s nothing funny about this one. Don’t do it. Ever.

There is so much for our teen drivers to learn. Every little nugget of wisdom that we can give them is going to set them up for success.

This information originally appeared on Four Hens and Rooster as two separate articles.