By the time many children reach driving age, they believe they’re so smart it can be futile to teach them how to drive. Besides, they already know nearly as much about driving as their naive parents who’ve been unknowingly teaching them for years.

Children watch closely and listen intently as their parents’ drive and they imitate good or bad driving habits without knowledge or concern for the consequences. They will ultimately drive just like their parents. Therefore, bad driving parents spawn bad driving teens.

Teenagers rarely see the broader view because their emotions are impulsive. Many believe that they can make grown-up decisions, but developmental issues seriously challenge their belief. Parents can give guidance, explain good and bad decisions and ready their child for victory. But because a child’s brain is not fully developed until around age 25, many don’t pay attention to their parent’s guidance. It’s interesting how some teens whine about picking up around the house, but don’t have issues doing the same things away from home.

Many parents don’t realize that most intersections that are regulated by a traffic light are also regulated by a pavement marking called a stop line. It’s one solid white line painted across the road, prior to a crosswalk, signifying the proper place for vehicles to stop for red traffic lights. In a cartoon world, a cannon would pop out of the ground and annihilate any car that ignored a stop line. When drivers properly use the stop line, turning vehicles have adequate clearance to negotiate their turn and pedestrians have a safer way to cross the road.

Pedestrian crosswalks are painted on the road surface to prevent motorists from blocking foot traffic. Countless driving parents need to read the driver’s manual because they teach their children that crosswalks are stop lines. They demonstrate this poor behavior by stopping their vehicles on top of the ladder-like painting across the road. Informed parents let proper action do the teaching.

One part of the human brain is used to process visual information. Most tasks become easy peasy when they’re demonstrated.

Some people can’t decide which would be worse, riding with a teenage driver or driving in Atlanta-type traffic. Teenagers may think they can make good driving decisions, but most will need special instructional help in many situations. Parents shouldn’t be fooled by the size of their teenager’s body because they’re not mentally grown.

Traffic lights are loved by everyone until the moment they turn red. Some seem to stay red long enough for a man to grow a heavy beard. And, the shortest time span known to man is the time between the traffic light changing to green and when other drivers start honking their horns.

Uninformed drivers are often the reason it feels like many red lights stay red for years. Many traffic lights are controlled by an inductive loop that’s buried in the pavement. The inductive loop may seem intelligent because it recognizes when vehicles are present. It’s not magic, just a simple coil of wire placed in the road that magnetically detects the metal in a vehicle. When it detects a vehicle, the loop sends a signal to a computer signifying the vehicle’s presence. When it passes the loop, the computer is notified that the vehicle has gone. The cuts in the pavement are visible after the loop is installed and that makes the controller evident. Informed parents let their actions do the teaching, they stop properly then point out the visible pavement cuts.

When traffic gets thick, nerves get tense, or danger lurks around each corner, it’s time to consider alternatives. Traffic experts say that traffic control is designed for everyone’s general safety, but many driving parents must not be concerned with safety. When the law is ignored, the rights and safety of all drivers and passengers are equally ignored. Teenagers need adult driving guidance until they’re fully grown. Parents should be aware, demonstrate proper driving skills, then steer unaware teenage drivers to adulthood. Be in the know, stay in the loop and keep proper driving etiquette and the rules of the road in sight.

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Charlie Sewell is a retired Powder Springs police chief who lives in Cherokee County. His book “I’d Rather You Call Me Charlie: Reminiscences Filled With Twists of Devilment, Devotion and A Little Danger” is available on Amazon. Email him at retiredchiefsewell@gmail.com.

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