Your teen is ready to drive. Naturally, you’re concerned, maybe even a little anxious. After all, in your mind, they’re still your baby. You can’t imagine them facing the everyday challenges and obstacles of driving. It’s important that you feel comfortable teaching your teen. You play a key rule in the development of your young driver’s driving skills. Teaching your teen how to drive is arguably one of the most challenging tasks you’ll have as a parent. These 14 essential tips for parents of new drivers will help you manage.
- Set a good example. Drive safely and avoid distractions while you’re driving. Don’t text, eat or drink, or speed. Do buckle up. Your young driver will be more inclined to follow driving rules, if they see you doing it.
- Consider investing in a driving course. Your state department of motor vehicles should be able to provide you with approved driving courses. If your child’s school offers drivers’ ed, encourage them to enroll in the class. A knowledgeable driver is a safe driver.
- Remind your young driver that driving is a privilege. Have a serious discussion and let them know what is expected from them, as well as what the consequences are for not following your rules. Consider creating a teen driving contract.
- Discuss driving costs. Decide who will handle car payments, insurance payments, gas, and maintenance. Teen drivers will take driving more seriously, if they have to manage some of the costs.
- Enforce your states teen driving laws. All states have graduated driver licensing (GDL) systems, which help ensure teens can build driving skills under low-risk conditions. All states have 3-step GDL systems, although laws may vary. The stages are learner’s permit, intermediate license, and unrestricted license. (A link containing the GDL laws for individual states is listed in the sources below.)
- Don’t talk down or scold your driver while driving. This creates a negative environment, creates distractions, and hinders your young driver’s learning. Instruct in a calming tone. You don’t have to wait to give feedback or address errors, but you can pullover to do that. If you sense tension in your teen, head home, and plan for another driving lesson at a later date.
- Keep talking at a minimum to avoid distracting your teen driver.
- Give young drivers advance notice when you want them to turn, slow down, or stop. Yelling at the last minute creates unnecessary tension. Not only that, it can cause an accident.
- Keep an eye out for potential hazards and dangers, such as road construction or accidents. New drivers haven’t quite mastered scanning techniques and may not recognize danger until it’s too late.
- Teach your child how to pump their own gas, check fluids, and any regular maintenance they can safely do on their own.
- Make sure your driver’s vehicle has an emergency car kit with items such as a first aid kit, jumper cables, a spare tire, and a jack, among other things. Remind them to replace whatever is used, and ensure they know how to use the items in the kit.
- Give them a safe car to drive. Many parents will give teen drivers an old, secondhand car, or a hand-me-down that is past its prime. Often these cars will not have some of the necessary safety features newer cars have such as anti-lock brakes and airbags. That’s not to say, get them a a brand new car, but recognize that your teen needs to be safe while driving.
- Don’t get upset by an accident. Everyone makes mistakes, and new drivers, regardless of how safely they drive, will make them. Of course that’s easier said than done, but it’s important for your child to know that they can be honest if they make a mistake without fear of an overreaction.
- Share driving responsibilities. Send your teen to the grocery store or have them pick up a younger sibling from school. It’s going to be difficult to send them off on their own, but you are giving them the opportunity to practice, build confidence, and teach them that driving is a responsibility, as well. You’re also taking some of the driving responsibilities off your plate.
Tips for Parents/ TeenDriving.com
Graduated Driver Licensing Introduction/ IIHS.org
Tips for Parents Teaching Their Teens How to Drive/ DMV.org