In the blink of an eye, I went from changing diapers to handing over the keys to a car. My teen is responsible and intelligent, but nothing prepares you for that initial moment where they are no longer under your wing and driving down the road. While the closer trips to the grocery store, and around the neighborhood seem easier to digest, with the holidays fast approaching, more preparation is needed to ensure that my teen is ready to drive in big city holiday traffic, which is a completely different type of driving than puttering down the road to the local store. We all understand that this type of traffic is different, and here are some ways to prepare both you and your teen for their first time driving in big city holiday traffic.
Unique Dangers of Big City Holiday Traffic
Big city traffic already has enough dangers of its own. Accidents due to drowsy driving, speeding, texting while driving, or driving recklessly are more common on the larger highways and in the congested traffic of a big city. Add to that big city danger the approaching holiday, and you are left with something slightly short of chaos.
According to the American Automobile Association, over 107 million Americans will go by plane, train, and automobile to visit their families between December 23 and January 1. In fact, approximately 97 million will be traveling by car during the holiday season. With increased drivers come increased accidents due to bad weather conditions, rushed drivers, challenging gridlock, and changes in traffic patterns in some areas to accommodate the larger influx of traffic.
All of this leads to an extra helping of danger for any driver, but especially for a teen driver, who may not have a lot of experience navigating these extra complications.
Preparing Your Teen
With all the increased challenges that are imposed by big city holiday traffic, there are some steps we can take to prepare our teen to safely navigate their destinations as a newer driver. To provide them with extra education, insight, and experience, here are some steps we are taking that you might also consider implementing with your teens.
If they have not already attended driving school, consider giving your teen some sort of driver’s education course that can teach them things that you simply cannot. These instructors are trained to provide education regarding what to do in terrible weather conditions, how to drive responsibly, and how to avoid common collisions such as those accidents due to drowsy driving by others on the roadways.
Have Them Ride with You in Big City Holiday Traffic
Before pushing them out of the nest, make sure that your teen driver truly knows what to expect in big city holiday traffic by taking them for a ride in it with you. Take this time to really show them what it is like to merge in heavy traffic, drive a different direction due to holiday traffic diversions, and drive defensively when in congested areas. Talking to your teen while you are driving through big city holiday traffic can show them how you handle these obstacles and challenges, and why you made the driving decisions you did.
Practice Makes Perfect
Practice may not make your teen a perfect driver, but it will make them a better driver. Make sure that they have had enough practice driving in normal conditions before they go into big city holiday traffic. With any activity, skills develop over time, and the only way to get better at something is to practice. Have your teen driver practice with adult supervision both outside of holiday traffic and through big city holiday traffic. There is simply no substitute to experience. This can give them a sense of encouragement, and give you, the parent, a sense of comfort that they can handle the challenge.
Sign an Agreement
Considering having your teenager sign a driving agreement that lays out all of the rules and regulations related to their driving, in both normal times and also as they drive in holiday traffic. Make sure to set a curfew to ensure that they are not out driving during late-night hours when most accidents happen due to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Include penalties for any failure to abide by the driving agreement.
Preparation is the Key to Success
The old saying goes that preparation is the key to success, and in this case, the saying holds true. If you feel your teen is ready to handle big city holiday traffic on their own, make sure you have done everything you can to give them the skills, tools, and experience to make wise and responsible decisions. That way, in the end, you can all be safely home for the holidays together.