Teaching Two-Year-Olds to Drive

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | December 26, 2012

Has your son or daughter taken and passed the driver’s education course yet? Whether parents realize it or not, they have been teaching their child how to drive from about the age of two, when they were tall enough to see out the car windows.

One of the first things children may have noticed is a parent’s reaction after not getting the last parking space near the grocery store. A nimble compact car slides quickly into the space and mom taps the steering wheel with her fist. Mom may not verbalize her disappointment and upset but it’s written all over her face. The next motion to get a child’s attention might be the back-and-forth jockeying for position on a four-lane road— heads bobbing to and fro with every lane change.

By the time children enter their teen they know and understand parents’ driving patterns except that now they also comprehend the more complex aspects; speed, braking and distance. Do parents model unsafe behaviors behind the wheel? Using a cell phone without a hands-free device, texting, eating and drinking while the car is in motion, putting on makeup, reaching for something, rubbernecking and driving using a knee to steer the car are examples of dangerous moves children are learning from parents. Teenagers aren’t the only ones with risky behaviors.

Here are a couple boring statistics:

Highway crashes are the number one cause of deaths of people age eight to thirty-four in the U.S. according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

According to an article by SixWise.com the causes for these crashes are (1) distracted driving, mainly rubbernecking, (2) driver fatigue, (3) drunk driving, (4) speeding, (5) aggressive driving and (6) weather related causes.

The 6 Most Common Causes of Automobile Crashes

What can you do to avoid an accident?

Pay attention. Reaching for the glove compartment, coffee cup, cigarettes or baby bottle has caused many accidents. Texting or holding a cell phone is a bona fide no-no. Anything that draws your attention from the front, back and sides of your car is a distraction.

Obey the posted speed limit. In bad weather, drop your speed. Ask yourself, “Can I afford a ticket?” If the rules mean nothing to you, then why would speed limits be important to your kids? The “do as I say, not as I do” mantra doesn’t cut it with savvy teens.

Stop gawking & mind your own business. Turning your head could very well cost you big bucks even for a simple fender bender. Insurance premiums skyrocket and you or the other driver open the possibilities for expensive lawsuits.

Obey signs. The yield, stop, curve and other signs are there for a good reason— bridges really do freeze so proceed with caution.

Allow space before you. Follow the 2-second rule; pick an object by the car in front of you, a full two seconds should pass before you reach the object. If a car pulls in between, refer to the 2-second rule again.

Don’t take it personally. Visualize your grandma when you get cut off by a careless driver. You are less likely to honk if it’s your beloved grandma driving the other car.

Prevent road rage. Keep your “Jersey salute,” “Magic digit” or “Bronx cheer” to yourself; it solves nothing and only serves to fuel anger and honking your car horn only aggravates other drivers.

Drive religiously. No matter what your beliefs, drive as if you have Jesus or Buddha riding in the car with you judging every move you make. What would Jesus do?

No drinking and driving. Most people caught for driving drunk thought they were the one-in-a-million who could hold their liquor. Illegal substances fall under this rule as well.

Watch the weather. Rain, snow, sleet and even the wind can play a role in crashes. Slowing down is your best action. It’s too late after your wheels lose traction and your car pirouettes; right about then you realize how powerless you really are.

Common courtesy can solve many problems on the highway. Watch the road and focus on safety first, then the comfort of your passengers. When taking off from a full stop, proceed gradually. When lights turn yellow, prepare to stop by coasting. Watch for your passengers’ bobbing heads as a cue to slow down. When a dangerous driver uses the wrong lane to get in front of you, give a wide berth.

Take a defensive driving class locally or online to hone your skills. Most insurance carriers will give you a percentage reduction on your premiums if you do. Either way, you will be a much better, informed driver, check out the link for New Jersey:

Defensive Driving Courses in New Jersey

PS: Don’t smoke in the car with your children— better yet— QUIT! Don’t throw your lit cigarettes out the car window as wildfires can result, especially in dry weather.

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

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About Jackie Saulmon Ramirez

Jackie has volunteered for more than twenty years for children and family issues. Currently she writes for parents in the "Reminder" and "Parent Rap" Facebook page. If you are interested in receiving the "Reminder," send her a message.
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