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boy, that escalated quickly

Hey everyone! Today I have something a little different for you. This post comes from David. He is going to talk about something I have little experience in, dealing with a new driver in the house. David is also an insurance consultant. I may bring him back some time to give us all advice on car insurance.

I find all aspects of teenage driving terrifying. Like many other parents, while teaching my daughter how to drive I found it very hard to keep the mood light and not freak out as she tried to merge onto the interstate. I struggled with my wife when deciding whether or not to buy her a car or not, which car to buy, and whether to let her drive in the snow at all. Everything about having a teenager is a tricky mess but with some help I finally got threw it. Well sort of.

Fear and frustration in empty parking lots.

I would take my daughter out to teach her to drive in parking lots and be amazed at the skills that she lacked. I kept asking myself, “Was I this bad at basic maneuvers when I was 15?” I found it increasingly difficult to follow the advice of insurance pamphlets, which is of course to keep the mood light and reward good behavior. I kept telling myself that I need to ignore the slip ups and praise the good practices she was already doing in order make the good habits stick.

This is all good and fine for the low risk situations in the parking lot but as Ron Burgundy said, “Boy, that escalated quickly.”

boy, that escalated quickly

I had a great time with saying “I love how you’re turning steadily around corners” but once she had to start making maneuvers like changing lanes in moderate traffic I could hardly stop myself from screaming as she yanked the wheel along with her head whenever she checked her blind spot. We were lucky there was no one to our left or she would have bumped them, sending us into a spinning wreck that would have to end in a huge explosion. At least that’s how I was picturing it as I tried to explain how to look behind her while keeping her hands completely still.

New drivers have an especially hard time judging the time and distance required to make maneuvers in traffic, so we went back to the parking lot and tried to get better at timing things and separating head turns from hand movements.

When it came to buying a car for my daughter I was completely beside myself.

I always thought we would get her something in our middle-class price range, but having driven with her I decided that a teenager should have an old car that isn’t cool and doesn’t have to look good. While this may cut back on driving enjoyment, it will be safe and will get them from one place to another. Chances are it’s not going to last very long anyway, and by that point she should be graduating high school and should be able to buy her own car.

We also considered briefly not getting her a car at all, first carbut instead we decided to if she promised to save a good chunk (at least 50%) of her pay checks for college expenses. She was only working about 10 hours a week and excelling at her academic studies, so we paid for her gas and pricey teenager insurance, but the car was a really cheap 1994 Ford Aspire that we found for only $600 and I have always wanted to help my children with these things.

It also helps that I have a pretty decent understanding of car mechanics, so I could do most of the repairs that popped up. She hasn’t been in an accident yet (which is a miracle given by the grace of all things holy) but I’m keeping my fingers crossed and I continue to lecture her about driving safely whenever I can.

Dealing with teen drivers is never an easy thing, but somehow I made it out alive. My advice is twofold: 1) Make sure you do all you can in parking lots to teach them the skills they need and 2) don’t invest too much in their first car. Readers, I know I’ve been extremely lucky – do you have any horror stories about teaching your kids to drive or their first cars? Let us know in the comments below!

This post was written by a humble guest, David Baldwin. He is an insurance consultant in Boise, Idaho and is currently rebuilding a 1970 Pontiac FireBird. Follow him on Twitter @DavidTBaldwin.