Safety at the Pumps: Tips for Teen Drivers

Sure, your teen’s excited for learning how to drive – the impending freedom is almost too much to handle! She’s excited to get behind the wheel, learn how to maneuver 4-way stops and bumper-to-bumper traffic, but what about the everyday tasks that come along with driving? Basic maintenance such as changing a tire, replacing wipers and topping off basic fluids may come to mind with the phrase “everyday tasks”; however, did you think about filling up?  Safety at the pumps is key.

Fueling up the vehicle is something many of us take for granted as maintenance, although it is the most basic and common maintenance we perform on our vehicles. When teaching a teen to drive, safety at the pump and service station should be among the first lessons.

Gasoline Safety

Official warnings blanket fuel pumps with messages of Dos and Don’ts for refueling a vehicle. Whether or not someone reads them is another story. A teen driver may understand that gasoline and its vapors are dangerous and flammable, but not how quickly a dangerous situation can occur. Have you ever noticed the warning about not getting back into your vehicle while refueling? Static electricity can build up – think about a time when you’ve touched something and felt that tiny spark. Since gasoline vapors are heavier than air and prevalent while refueling, getting into your vehicle or touching it can cause that little spark of static electricity to create a flash fire. Of course, this is not a common thing and just because it doesn’t happen doesn’t mean it can’t – it’s possible.

It’s important to remind your teen to stay with the nozzle and hose while refueling, alert, aware and NOT on her phone – even in the rain or snow. If the nozzle isn’t fully located within the tank, your teenage may have a spill on his hands if the lock is engaged and the nozzle tumbles to the ground.

Service Station Safety

Unfortunately, going to the gas station has become somewhat dangerous as criminals and thieves have figured out ways to target unsuspecting drivers. Teach your teen to always lock the doors and roll up the windows before refueling. The Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police warn that thieves are taking valuables from the other side of the car (yes, that means quietly sneaking up and getting in your car, even if you’re just on the other side refueling!). Going inside the station presents an even easier opportunity for thieves – and unfortunately worse criminals — to get in the vehicle unnoticed.

Of course, we don’t want to talk about these things with our children, let alone think about them at all, but the gas station is a frequent stop for drivers – many times multiple times per week! Your teen may be wanting driving tips regarding downtown parking and driving on the highway, but they need the safety stuff, as well.

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