National Teen Driver Safety Week


October 18-24, 2020 is National Teen Driver Safety Week.

National Teen Driver Safety, Becky Gonzalez, Miami Mom Collective
The day I became a literal backseat driver, circa 2019.

“Life is always a bumpy road. Eventually, you just learn how to drive on it.”                Author Unknown

Nothing really prepared me for how I’d feel the first time my son drove away in a car that didn’t have me in it. Along with my prayers, I was instantly overwhelmed with fears and doubts, as well as extremely grateful for the Location Sharing feature on Google Maps.

First of all, since when is he old enough to drive? Wasn’t he just sitting on my lap for story time at the library a few weeks ago?

“Before you know it, your kids will be old enough to drive you around.” I know I heard that at least a million times as my kids were growing up. There was what seemed like an eternity of shuffling multiple kids back and forth in my minivan. That has slowly and relentlessly transitioned to a new season. I’m driving an SUV instead of a minivan these days. Now I’m the one saying things like, “I blinked and my kids are old enough to drive.”

I blinked and now my oldest has his own car and drives himself everywhere. 

We’re ready for it…maybe.

All the other things we teach them prepares us for this moment…sort of. As a mom, the different experiences you walk your kids through are designed to help prepare you for each milestone that follows. I’m fairly certain that at some level, all those years of potty training and phonics lessons helped prepare me to become their first driving instructor. Or maybe it just made me crazy enough to think I could remain emotionally intact while doing it. If I survived sleepless nights and potty training, I can certainly survive driving lessons, right?

Sure, we’re teaching them and each lesson builds upon the next. We’re learning right along with them too. The biggest lesson I’m learning is that my feelings about something aren’t necessarily a reflection of me being ready for that thing. Are we ever truly ready for any of it, friends? 

National Teen Driver Safety Week

This year’s National Teen Driver Safety Week will be on October 18-24, 2020. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has some helpful tips for parents of teen drivers. I’m thankful their tips sound a lot like what we’ve been sharing in our own household of current and future teen drivers.

Some things to consider for teen drivers and their parents:

  • Distracted driving is a huge issue for all drivers. Teen drivers are especially susceptible to this due to their inexperience. Distracted driving is more than just texting and talking on the phone. Anything that causes us to take our eyes off the road – eating, drinking, applying makeup, changing the radio station – can be a dangerous distraction. Eyes on the road, hands on the wheel, all of the time. 
  • Tragically, seat belt use is lowest among teen drivers. The majority of teenagers involved in fatal crashes are unbuckled. Let the teens in your life know, and help them understand: buckling up is the law. It’s also one of the easiest and most effective actions in reducing the chances of death and injury in a crash. Set the example here, and remind them often.
  • Become familiar with our state Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws. These laws are designed to give teen drivers more time – under less risky circumstances – to learn the complex skills required to operate a vehicle. Click here and scroll down for Florida’s GDL laws. 

There is so much more to teen driving than a Driver’s Ed class.

Talk to your teens often about what to look out for, and ways they can practice safe driving. Be a good role model as a safe driver. Their learning starts with you, and more is caught than taught.

I have had the opportunity to be a backseat driver for my son in every sense of the word. If I gripped the door handle any harder during those first few times of him driving, it would have come off in my hand! No strength like freaked out mama strength, am I right?

Honestly, our son is a really safe and cautious driver. It just takes some getting used to, this whole my-baby-is-driving-me-around-in-a-car thing. I am happy to report that I don’t grab door handles in fear as much as I used to, and I barely press down my imaginary passenger seat brake pedal.

There have been countless opportunities to watch my son drive off without me since that very first time a few years ago. I still pray each and every time he gets behind that wheel. And yes, I still sneak peeks at Google Maps Location Sharing if his text telling me he’s arrived safely takes a little longer than it should. I am thankful for each and every time he comes back safely. Thankful I get to grow along with him as he drives towards adulthood. #punintended