The day I turned 16, I pestered my mother until she drove me to the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicle) office in my parents’ only car, a sky blue Chrysler Newport. I walked… no I merrily skipped into the office to write my 365. I was prepared. I had read, from front to back, a small booklet that was to teach me the rules of the road. The test took about 30 minutes… that was it.
I left the office with a “life altering” piece of paper in my wallet. This was the first of many steps I would be taking into adulthood.
With a grin from ear to ear, I walked over to the driver’s side and drove home with my mom sitting in the passenger seat. I remember that day clearly; I remember how I felt and how thrilled I was to be driving… even if the car was the actual size of a boat! Or so it felt.
Forward flash a few years… I now drive highways with ease at speeds that never existed in my small home town (and still don’t). I’m able to parallel park, to back into my driveway and pretty much know the parameters of my car. All these things that took a lot of practice for me to master I now feel like I do with ease and confidence. I’m a a pretty good driver if I do say so myself!
However, now that my kids sit in the front seat they’ve started asking a whole lot of questions about driving.
• How are you supposed to hold a steering wheel?
• When are you supposed to signal?
• Can you go through a yellow light?
• When do you use “four way flashers”
• How fast are you going? What’s the speed limit? Can you get a ticket?
• Are you allowed to use your phone?
It hits me… as quick as a flash of lightening. This is their first driving lesson, it’s not when they physically sit behind the wheel. They are closely watching me, learning from what I do! It has forced me to reflect more accurately on my driving habits.
My husband and I always buckle up. That one’s easy for us. BUT, think about it with real honesty. Is there a yellow light you could have stopped at? Is there a text you read while at a red light? Did you forget to use your signal light?
What seems to be small “blunders” while driving are actually strong messages to our kids about how to behave once they are behind the wheel. Yup like most everything… What you do is far more powerful than what you say!
This is especially concerning when it comes to driving because according to Transport Canada, teens aged 16-19 years are at the highest risk in the country to die in a motor vehicle collision. This is a terrifying thought as a parent.
Ask yourself… “Are you a distracted driver?”
So the next time your phone beeps and you feel that uncontrollable anxiety that you must at this very second answer it or look at it… STOP and think about what this is teaching your kids. Set the example, be a good role model. It might just save their life.
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