How To Survive A Teen Driver

teen driver
teen driver

My cousin’s son crushing it at the DMV!

The other day, my husband and I had THE talk.  The one that many couples dread, tend to put off and try to tell themselves they don’t need. The one that, for people like me,  could be a relationship deal breaker.  I started it off with “So, when Ava learns to drive..we’re gonna teach her on a stick, right?”


Here, my friends, is where my stomach start to really churn. I mean, my husband isn’t my life partner by accident. A fellow car lover himself, our idea of a decent date night is test driving at Porsche, Audi & Ferrari. But if he thinks, for one second, that it’s ok for our offspring to be oblivious to the joys of a manual transmission, well then, perhaps he’s not the soul mate I thought he was. Luckily he responded with, “Oh yeah. For sure.”

“Yay! Oh My God, thank you! I love you.” I was elated.

To which he responded, “Mwrrr.. mwrr.. (shuffle away)” (Man Speak for affection)

Phew, the deal was sealed and all would be fine.  But then it hit me..would it? Our daughter is about to learn to drive and, like every other milestone in her childhood, we are completely and utterly unprepared.

As my almost 14 year old reminds me daily, her provisional driving permit is a mere 18 months away. And she is filled with questions: Who’s gonna teach her?  What car am I buying her? (what?) Or am I simply giving her my car? (that’s hilarious) So, my friends, I’ve decided to learn as much as I can now and take YOU along for the ride. Thus begins the Motorhead Mama Teen Driving Series.

First,  Let’s Make a Plan! Here are the questions that I believe every parent should ponder FAR in advance of having a teen driver:

  1. Who is teaching them? If you’re thinking– we’ll just put them in Driver’s Ed, I implore you to think again. Driver’s Ed teaches them to pass the test. That’s it. What about being a good driver? A safe driver? A driver that people don’t flip off?
  2. What are they driving? Everyone says “your car”, right? Mom’s mini van? Dad’s ‘other car.’ Decide now, before the permit hits the fan.
  3. What’s the long term plan for their car? Are you buying them one? Or are they buying? New or used? Safety or style? What’s the budget & will you get involved? Will you pay for insurance? Maintenance?
  4. How will you keep them safe? Texting. Drinking. AR/VR/VDs– the dangers are everywhere.  My daughter & I recently witnessed a teen driver playing Pokemon Go behind the wheel on the 101 freeway. OMG.
  5. What do you want them to learn behind the wheel? Just pass the test? Snow? Ice? Tailgaters? Parallel parking? Manual? Automatic? Off Road skills? Motorcycle? Track?
  6. What do you want them to learn about ownership/maintenance? Tires. Gas. Fluids. Etc.

As a part of my journey, and this series, I will be writing posts to address these questions while looping in people far more experienced than I. I’ve already taped an interview with a teen driving safety expert, Doug Hebert, which I”ll post next week:

A Man With A Mission: Doug Herbert from B.R.A.K.E.S.

I’d also love to hear from you, especially the parents that have already been through this. Please post comments on my FB page so we can share with everyone.

I’ll leave you guys with the question that Doug asked me that really left me speechless:

Doug: “So do your kids do sports and lessons?”

Me: “Sure. Horseback riding (4x a week), guitar, bellydancing, school play, cooking class, art class, a few others. Why?”

Doug: “How many hours have you spent on those?”

Me: (eye roll) “A lot.”

Doug: “Well, how many of those skills will they be using for the rest of their lives?”

Me: (gulp)

Doug: “So maybe teaching them to drive well is worth your time.”


More next time. In the meantime, tell me what your experience was like. Photos please!

2 thoughts on “How To Survive A Teen Driver”

  1. I learned to drive a late ’50s Jeep with a manual trans on a private dirt road when I was 12. I don’t have all that now so I taught both kids to drive automatics, on city streets, when they were of legal age. My son has since learned to drive a manual on his own but my daughter never has. I doubt it’ll really hurt her. I took my son to a teenage accident-avoidance program at Road Atlanta when he was 17 and it was worth the money. Poor scheduling has kept me from doing that for my daughter but it’s still on the to-do list. They both did high school drivers ed too. I’d say the most important thing was the accident avoidance training. Sorry I don’t have photos (except for the Jeep, which you already have a copy of).

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