Most people these days have a GPS system in their car; whether it comes with the car as a built-in option or an after-market system that is installed like a Garmin. Either way, many people have become reliant on these systems to point them in the right direction every time they leave the house and drive into unknown territory.
The thing is, these systems cannot always be relied upon. They can malfunction, not be up-to-date, or simply be wrong. I know, I know, I worry too much….NOT. This can happen and if you rely solely on your GPS to get you where you need to go OR get you home, then you’re putting way too much trust into an electronic device.
That being said, what about your teen drivers? My daughter did not want the GPS when my boyfriend first bought it for her. It was as if she almost felt offended by it. However, it has grown on her so much that now it is her main navigational source affectionately named Michelle.
I have explained to her exactly what I said above – things can happen and if Michelle suddenly cannot help, then what? So, before my teen gets into the car to drive to a place out of town that she has never been, I take a few steps ahead of time to make sure she is prepared AND ease my worry.
- Look up the location ahead of time and map it out. Once you obtain directions to the place your teen is driving to, use either Google Maps or even an old fashioned paper map to show them where to go. Simple things like which direction they need to take, how long they can expect to be on a certain highway, what landmarks they may pass are all things that will help them get a general sense of the direction they should be headed and what to look for on their route.
- Try to point out places they are familiar with if possible, for example, “you know the road we take to Grandma’s house? Take that road until you get to the IHOP and then turn right”.
- Print off the directions or write them down. This is especially helpful if they have a passenger to assist or if they have to pull over for fear of being lost. Their passenger can follow along and make sure that the GPS is pointing them to the right place. If they are alone and pull over in a safe location to review the directions on paper, they can get a better sense of where they need to be going by looking at a map or set of instructions compared to what they see around them.
- I use this often myself just to find out which lane I will need to be in, which way I will be turning, or how long I can expect to be on a specific road.
- Make sure their cell phone is fully charged and that they have a car charger. If a situation arises where your teen is really lost, the GPS has failed, or they are just feeling a little panicked it is always best that they have a way to call home for help. Cell phone batteries die a lot quicker when out and about than they do at home. Invest in a car charger if their car is not equipped with one so that they can always call home if needed.
A driving teen can be one of the biggest worries to a parent. When you add to that their venturing to places they have never driven, it is up to you to make sure they have the tools they need to get there safely. Preparation for a trip is something most adults do, so my advice is to teach your teens the same thing. You will both feel better when they arrive incident-free, you will build trust that they can do it themselves, and you will teach them that preparing ahead of time can save a lot of time, worry, and aggravation later.