Teens Learning to Drive

So my now 15 year old has passed his driving exam to get his permit and we are in the middle of the first 20 hours that I affectionately refer to as the “dreaded hours”. If any of you have taught someone to drive these are the hours when the new driver does things by mistake that can get you in a bad wreck and you have to pay extra attention as the teacher.

Most of the time my son is wearing a dexcom, so we don’t need to stick to find out his bg. Other than having some sugar within reach of the driver, is there something else we should be thinking about doing?

Also, adult T1’s if you aren’t wearing a dexcom, do you drive without knowing your bg?


Having some form of medical alert tags or information able to be easily located in the event of an accident would probably be a good idea - with emergency contact info.


Having something to treat lows nearby, and also something to drink is good, since you want to be able to wash it down to get it working, if it’s a solid food. I also like having my insulin pens within easy reach in case I want to take a shot, but I would recommend against anything like that for a new driver, unless they pull over and fully stop the car (probably I should always do that too, but… shrug)

Before I had my Dex, I definitely did not test before driving most of the time, but I have very robust and consistent hypo cues (and back then, my A1c was much higher, so it was even more true), so I wasn’t worried at all about going low without knowing. If I had had any hypo unawareness, I imagine my strategy would have been very different.

Good luck to you both! :slight_smile:


This is a good call—I don’t wear my medic alert, but I did as a teen, and currently I have the medical info programmed into my phone and available through the emergency set up on the lock screen, as well as a wallet card with my medical info.


I am on my youngest child now learning to drive. The fact that she has T1 is absolutely the least of my concerns. The only D concession which I ask her to make is to check her BG before she starts the car. Whether it is on the Dex or a meter.

When she is driving, if she feels low or anything does not feel right, then I have instructed her to simply pull over on the side of the road. I agree with @cardamom in that I have asked her not to do anything in regards to eating, drinking, checking BG, texting, talking on the phone, doing her hair, applying makeup, or any of the other million things you see crazy drivers doing on the road. If she needs to do ANYTHING other than drive, I have instructed her to just pull over on the side of the road. No matter what it is. Then deal with whatever needs to be dealt with. If she is low and takes some tabs (while on the side of the road) then I have told her to just sit there on the side of the road and wait it out. There is no rush. She of course has a phone and can always call for a pickup if she does not feel safe to continue driving.

We have months of driving together before she will be ready for her first solo. In our state, underage drivers require a minimum of six months of supervised driving before being allowed to test for their license.


I absolutely agree with this :arrow_up:. D is the least of the worries. The fact you are driving a 4,000 pound weapon around is a bigger issue.

I agree with the idea of always doing a BG check before starting the car, but would add that you should also be aware of the direction. 120 at start sounds great, but 20 minutes later if it’s 60 that is not so great. So do a BG check and know the direction and how fast it is moving.

Last D thing is to always have some carb source in the car. Not just what you carry in your pocket normally, but a spot in the car that you know has a carb source stashed. Always.

The other things are all non-D, but just general things for the first few weeks:

  • Lot’s of time in empty parking lots to get used to the mechanics of steering and braking.

  • First few weeks, only conditions with good light and no rain.

  • Only empty roads.

  • Start with clockwise loops so you do mostly right turns, those are easier. Graduate to left turns after a few sessions.

  • Areas with stop signs instead of traffic lights. Stop signs are always a stop, so it is easier than the decision of stop or go on a traffic light if the light is changing. That decision can often be a panic the first few times.


You southerners might not have to deal with winter weather.
ha ha ha

An item for the Northern crowd.

Wait for a decent snowfall on a weekend. Head out ASAP on Saturday or Sunday morning to an empty parking lot (school or business that does not run on weekend) and try to beat the plows.

Go nuts in the parking lot.

Lots of fun !!!

Plus - the first time your child gets into a skid and spins out is much better in an empty parking lot then on Main Street.

With a new driver, bad weather is an opportunity. Take advantage of it. Train together. Make it a teaching moment. Better than forcing them to learn themselves a few years later all by themselves.

(Hint - Parents don’t be afraid to pop a few Valium…)


I was speaking about the first few times in the car. Walk before you run. But at some point, skids are useful to learn in a parking lot.


We actually started with the skids.

There just was this perfect snowfall that was too good to pass up.
Had to do it.

Started with skids ended with Rockfords.


You sound like my dad. First time he took me out, he had me parallel park, facing downhill, driving a manual. Skids would at least have been fun.


Um, can I come learn how to drive with you guys? I don’t really “snow”. Or ice, come to think of it.

Sounds like you’re all doing some good work covering the bases for safety though. I think getting the point across that it’s never important enough to rush while driving would be helpful.

As far as carbs in the car, we’ve tried a lot. Glucose tabs have molded. Honey sticks exploded. Other candy has liquified. I have recently had good luck with a package of Swedish fish which ironically have not melted, despite the large amount of wax contained within. They’re holding up in the glove box.

One more thing: I know it’s been talked about in the past, but I think that being clear about never driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is really important. And I would hope your kids can call you if they have a lapse in judgment that gets them drunk and near a car.

Safe travels! Getting my license when I turned 16 was one of the proudest days of my life! Hope it’s a good experience for your kids too. :slight_smile:

1 Like

Do they mold or only spot? We get spots but it is just discoloration. But maybe in your non-snow world (lol) mold is a bigger problem. I have a tube of 10 glucose tabs that has been in the car a long time. Last time I checked they had spots but still looked fine.

Although it may not sound it from my previous description of going crazy in a parking lot, I actually take driving very seriously. I consider it the most dangerous thing the majority of people will ever do in their lives. (Including my T1.) And certainly most people do not give it the consideration it deserves. I let me kids know that if they are drinking don’t try to figure out if they had “too much to drink” - just don’t drive. What I think is just as big of an issue (and perhaps more so) is getting in the car as a passenger where the other person who is driving has been drinking. I tell my kids if they suspect the driver was drinking they need to do open the door and get out. Once the car is moving they are in a bad spot. The time to get out is immediate.

They can call me anytime. As well with Uber, they can use the Uber app (even out here in the middle of nowhere - we tried it and it really worked - surprise !!!) to get a ride. I have my credit card loaded into the Uber app on my daughter’s phone. If she needs a ride then she doesn’t even have to call me. She can just get an Uber. Or call me. Whichever.

Texting on a Smartphone while driving is just as bad as driving drunk. Nobody should drive drunk. Nobody should drive while texting. Going down the highway, you see people doing it all the time. Somebody can get lucky for a long time and not have an accident. Luck doesn’t last forever.

What I try to convey to my kids is that driving is an activity which demands your undivided attention. No distractions from Smartphones, alcohol, anything. If you are driving then you are driving. If you need to send or receive a text - no big deal. Just pull to the side of the road. Do what needs to be done. Then get back to driving. Sometimes you really do need to send a text. Do it from the side of the road.

Low BG - same thing. When driving if you feel a low BG or the Dex alarms, no big deal. Pull over to the side of the road. Have some carbs. Wait for it to come up. Then get back on the road.

Getting back to the parking lot, my step-dad took me out to a parking lot in winter and we did all kinds of insane driving. The kinds of things we knew not to tell my Mother. She would totally freak. A couple years later, during winter, I did hit the brakes and nothing happened. It was like the brakes were not there. Just ice and then the car starts to spin. Without that parking lot experience, this would have been my first time with the car spinning when I was actually on the road. As it was, at least some of that parking lot experience came back fast enough to assist me in avoiding what could have ended up badly.


The one caveat I would say to this is to clarify that pulling over to the side of highways is pretty dangerous and best avoided if possible (people sometimes hit cars that do that), and if you do need to pull over to the breakdown lane, do not get out of your car, because that’s a good way to get hit by a fast car. If there’s something wrong with your car, call for help (AAA, police, whatever) and just wait for someone to come.


Good points.

However my comfort level sticks with telling my kids to pull over to the side of the road at any point in time.

In balancing the various risks coupled with instructional information overload, I find a simple “pull to the side of the road” to be the proper approach for me and my family.

1 Like

Fair! I think if there was a piece of that most worth communicating, it would be do not get out of your car if pulled to the side of the highway and keep your seatbelt on when possible (may not be if need to grab something from the backseat or whatnot, but generally).

1 Like

Good advice on this thread. Seems like we are going things similarly. My older son, still puts his phone on do not disturb when he drives and that seems to work really well.

As far as snow and ice, I grew up in Minnesota so we did the parking lot skidding and spinning for fun in the winter, makes it amazingly easy to control a car compared to not having the experience.

Now that we are in Oregon, we have to work pretty hard to find snow and ice parking lots to train on. On those rare days where we actually do get some snow and ice, we head out to the parking lots and all of the locals look at us like we are crazy. One time when my kids were younger I did it for fun, and some lady came out of house and threatened to call the police on us kids, then realized that my kids were in the back seat, and we were much older than she anticipated. She just told us we were crazy and went in her house


I lived in Portland, OR for a couple of years a long time ago, and one of the things there was hydroplaning—I’ve seen some scary driving, esp (if I recall correctly) on MLK Blvd sometimes, in the rain. You’d think everyone there would have figured that out with all the ample opportunity, but nope!


I am convinced the living in the PNW is too easy, and so there is no need to pay attention. Last winter we had a tough storm, and I had to drive downtown from the suburbs for a global meeting where the whole leadership of the company was already in town and at their hotel.

On the way to pick up a co-worker a guy with a BMW 6 series (nice car) asked if we could pull him out, I went over to the car and looked for a place to hookup to, and realized the guy had completely bald tires. I was like wtf, even if I successfully pull you out, you aren’t going anywhere…

Some people. Enough money for an amazing car, but didn’t pay enough attention to the tires, which he could have easily afforded.


It was black, and it looked a lot like mold. It does get hot here, and I assumed it was probably more likely to mold in your area because it gets damp? I have no idea why they molded.

Also, I did not think your driving in the snow comment made it sound like you didn’t take it seriously – your seriousness and preparation very much came through! It seemed to me like excellent practical life experience for your using driver. :slight_smile: You have before mentioned that you viewed at driving as the most dangerous thing we do, and I actually think about that sentiment quite a lot in my day-to-day life. I think it’s really true, and I watch people routinely make driving mistakes that put others at risk when I am out walking, or driving. I tend to take it really seriously too because it’s lethal. I wish I could drive around with you and your family on the same streets, because I would feel a little bit safer. :slight_smile:

1 Like

Ew. No - our spots (on the old Glucose tabs) don’t look like that.

My kids find it hilarious that I will eat anything. But black moldy looking stuff might even be too much for me.

1 Like