Driving Lessons from Big Brother: Driving for the First Time (and What He Taught Me)

teen driving lessons
teen driving lessons
Photo Credit: flickr.com/State Farm

The day my big brother taught me how to drive will always be embedded in my memory. A Texas military man who taught flight simulation to upcoming pilots, he drove nearly an entire day straight to make it back home when, still a teenager,  I aced my permit test.

I couldn’t wait for him to walk through the door and, when he did, we went straight to our local park- the perfect place to learn how to drive as the park offers one giant loop that only goes in one direction. So, hopping from his car into mine, we were both excited at the opportunity to catch up.

I remember the ride out to the park. We chatted about his trip from San Antonio and how the traffic was. I know we chatted about his car- an MR2. It a was bright red sports car and the love of his life.

Peppy but still efficient, the car was his perfect sidekick. We also chatted about how I aced my permit test. After a congratulatory smile, my brother, never one to get over excited, told me that the rules of the road were only part of driving. That’s a rule I still hold in high regards. Book learning will only get you so far in driving.

My parents had already bought me a car before I learned to drive. I needed a way to get back and forth to college, so they found a great deal on a newish Cavalier and that car would be my learner car as well as the car I took my driving test in. Big brother drove around the loop a couple of times so I could get the hang of the proper speed and so he could get the hang of the feel of my car.

Definitely not as peppy as his, he wanted to make sure all was well so he could instruct me properly. He parked the car, turned off the engine, and said, “Your turn.”

Never did I feel so excited and so nervous in my life! I hopped in, adjusted the seat and mirrors and turned on my car. Then it hit me: holy cow, I have to navigate this thing, remember which pedal is which, AND not hit anything or anyone? Yikes.

Seeing the panic, he looked at me and said, “You’ll be fine. Slow and steady wins the race. Just remember to not look directly at the road in front of you. You want to look ahead and scan back and forth and always assume.”

“Assume what?” I answered.

“Assume that someone is going to do something stupid or that that animal on the side of the road will run out in front of you, or that car ahead of you is going to slam on its breaks, or…”

‘Ok, I get it!” I winced. “Never assume that something won’t happen and prepare for it ahead of time.”

And, to this day, that’s still my mantra. When we take long road trips I’m constantly scanning the road and my mirrors, I make sure I keep a safe distance between the car ahead of me and try to think two steps ahead when it comes to traffic. It’s kind of like a game of checkers in my mind.

Keeping Teen Drivers Safe with Michelin 

michelin tires
Photo Credit: flickr.com/Michelin Live UK

Sadly, car crashes remain the No. 1 killer of teens, with 2,614 teen drivers of passenger vehicles involved in fatal crashes in 2013, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and could easily be prevented with a little bit of education on vehicle maintenance or driving in potentially hazardous conditions.

Michelin Tires (one of the safest tires around) is launching a campaign to crowd source your best tips for keeping teens safe on the road. They’re asking America to share their best tips on staying safe when driving based on what they were taught and what they’ve learned through experience. Using the hashtag #StayingSafe, you can share your best driving tip with Michelin.

And here’s why: no matter whether you’re 16 or 116, we all have to share the road, right? So, why not share our best driving tips with each other and make the roads safer.

Do you have a great tip for teen driving safety? Please let me know in the comment section below.

Happy Travels!

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