If you’re like me, then you’re a 57-year-old male living in Seattle, with a slight overbite and a two-inch scar on your left hand from a kitchen accident in 2004. But that’s beside the point. My point is, if you’re like me, then you may also be about to enter one of the most terrifying stages of life: The age when your teenage son or daughter starts learning how to drive.

Having somehow endured this traumatic experience with two daughters, I’m happy to say there is a reasonable chance you and your teenager will get through this period unscathed, and by reasonable chance I mean less than 15%. Let’s face it, being a parent is hard enough without having to experience the harrowing adventure of teaching your precious offspring how to drive. But there comes a day when your teenager might utter the phrase every parent dreads: Hey, Dad. I got into Stanford. But even before that day, there is another phrase that terrifies every loving parent: I want to get my driver’s license.

There is no way to avoid it. Sooner or later, it’s going to happen. The sooner you can con, I mean convince, your spouse to sign up for the thankless task of teaching them, the better. In our family, I was the sucker, er, volunteer. As a result of my anguishing experience teaching our daughters how to drive, I’ve learned several valuable tips to pass on to you.

Tip #1: Don’t have children. I can’t stress this enough. Oh sure, you may miss out on a few fun things like teaching an impressionable young child how to throw a baseball. But consider the alternative: Never having to pay thousands of dollars in car repair bills and jacked-up insurance premiums because there would be no daughter of yours who might be jabbering on their cell phone, thereby accidentally backing your Toyota minivan into your neighbor’s mint-condition 1967 Porsche 911 roadster – hypothetically speaking, of course.

Tip #2: Bribe your child. If you did not react in time to apply Tip #1, then do whatever you can to persuade them not to drive until they turn 35. You could make a thoughtful, cogent slide presentation showing the cost-savings of getting a bus pass and the reduced carbon footprint from not driving.  Of course, you’ll have a greater shot of becoming the next winner of American Idol than convincing your teenager to delay their desire to drive.

So when your slide presentation crashes and burns, proceed directly to Tip #2: bribery. For starters, you might offer to buy them the latest Samsung Galaxy 4G phone if they promise never to drive over 30 mph and only in sunny weather on country roads, with the radio off and no friends in the car. (This paragraph sponsored by Samsung – makers of the cool new Galaxy 4G.)   

Tip #3: Model safe driving habits. If the first two strategies fail, face it. Your kid is going to start driving. This means don’t crank up the radio full volume or read a map while driving. And never drive 15 mph over the speed limit in a 30 mph zone, failing to come to a complete stop at the stop sign at the intersection of Buford and 27th Place, while talking on your cell phone to your wife about dinner. That driving infraction will cost you a tidy $250. Just trust me on this and please don’t ask questions.

Tip #4: Remain calm and let ‘em drive. There is only so long you can stall by reviewing the location of the warning lights for the 11th time. It’s time to let them get behind the wheel. No matter what happens, it is critical for their confidence that you remain calm. So what if your child just barely missed hitting a jogger pushing a baby stroller. Stay calm. Nobody was hurt. So they took that left-hand turn way too tight and almost clipped a Mercedes-Benz. Please remain calm.

And so what if they drove a bit too fast as they entered the garage, screeching to a halt only after they ran over… MY BRAND NEW TAYLORMADE GOLF CLUBS???!!!??? What the F**k?!!? Don’t you tell me to remain calm!! Those were TaylorMade clubs, for God’s sake. I swear the only vehicle she’ll be driving for the next century is a Hello Kitty tricycle with training wheels. Ahem, not that my daughter ever did anything like this, mind you.

Tip #5: Help them find a safe car. Young drivers tend to be careless drivers. They make mistakes behind the wheel. So it’s important to help them pick out a vehicle that scores well in crash tests and comes loaded with safety features. That’s why I strongly recommend purchasing your child a Type 10 MBT Battle Tank, or if you’re looking for a bit better gas mileage, perhaps the Alvis FV103 Spartan Armored Personnel Carrier. Choose between two new colors for spring: desert sand and camouflage green. You will sleep soundly knowing your child will never get hurt in a car accident – although I can’t rule out the possibility of being taken out by a drone strike.

Good luck as you merge onto the dangerous highway of teenage driving. It can be an anxious time for any parent. That’s why I urge you to seriously consider Tip #1. It makes the process so much simpler.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base. 

Tim Jones - Profile at Safeco - TinyPS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a thumbs up or sharing this post on Facebook. And if you happen to be in the market for a car for your teenager, I can make you a screaming deal on a minivan with less than 200,000 miles and only seven dents caused by teenage drivers – most of them barely noticeable in the dark. 

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2013

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