“Mom – I got my Learner’s Permit!” – A Look at Teen Driving

olympia insurance agent


Submitted by Darlene Morales – Allstate Insurance

olympia insurance agent
Darlene Morales (center) is flanked by her team at the Morales Agency, Doty Catlin (left) and Dawn Soran (right).

I have fond memories of last year, when my now 14 year old daughter, wasn’t even interested in driving.  Then, she started high school.  And, all of a sudden she HAD to take driver’s ed.  And I’m the lucky parent who gets to “practice” with her.

My friends ask me “how’s the driving practice going?”, and my first response is, “Oh my goodness! It’s terrifying!” I never thought it would be this difficult.  I’ve had this experience before with my oldest.  Mind you, it was a few years ago, and maybe I was more calm or tolerant, but I don’t remember this fear.

However, maybe it’s because I’m an insurance agent now and I have a far better understanding of what can happen with young drivers.  But, in contemplating my extreme discomfort, I realized a few differences between my own experience, my older child’s experience, and my younger daughter’s.

My son simply had more practice prior to taking driver’s ed. We lived on Anderson Island and it was easier to gain more driving experiences without the fear of traffic.

north thurston public schools
Darlene Morales observes that kids are often “occupied” with electronic devices now when passengers in the car instead of watching and learning about safe driving from their parent chauffeurs.

Then, another eye-opening discovery – electronic devices.  We provide electronic devices – iPods, phones, tablets – for our kids in the car so they have “something to do”.  While this seems like a good plan, I realized they simply pay no attention to my driving or where we’re going.

Initially that doesn’t sound so bad, but when you’re practicing with your daughter and she has no idea how to get to the store from home – a drive you’ve made with her a million times – it hits home.  One of the most remarkable things about my oldest was that he had an amazing sense of direction.  However, he was a product of an era where we didn’t have cell phones and other electronic devices to “occupy” time, so he paid attention.

I also remember myself at 12 years old and I couldn’t wait to learn how to drive.  I would watch my Mom’s every move, so when I finally got the opportunity to drive, it seemed easy.

So, now what do I do with this information?  Well, for one, I’ve made my daughter put away her cell phone whenever she’s in the car with me, even when she isn’t the driver.  I actually started doing this about 6 months before she started her class, but I’ve found, that’s not soon enough. I want her to get used to the idea of not responding to her phone immediately – and never picking it up when she’s driving.  I also want her to pay attention both to my driving and to where we’re going.

Now I’m thinking about my 12 year-old boys.  Should I keep them from using their iPods in the car?  Should I start now?  My parents didn’t care if I was occupied, did yours?  Times have changed.  I’m thinking I need to, as well.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email