As teenagers approach driving age, the subject will likely be a major source of anticipation and apprehension in the household, but teaching your child to drive does not have to be a source of frustration as well.
Follow these seven tips to preserve your sanity while your teen gains another facet of responsibility and freedom.
Keep it light
Learning to drive is no easy feat, and teaching a teenager safety and skill behind the wheel can be a tense and difficult journey.
If tensions arise, take a break and reset, then return to the lesson. Now is the time for mistakes, so exercise patience and understanding as you set out on this important adventure with your child.
Ensuring that the environment is safe inside and outside of the vehicle will give your teenager the confidence behind the wheel.
Set the scene
A large driveway or vacant parking lot is an invaluable space for a classroom. Use cones to symbolize lane markers, signs, pedestrians, and other vehicles.
Take this opportunity to teach your teen parallel parking between two cones, proper turning and lane changes while checking their blind spot and emergency driving in various types of weather including ice and heavy rain.
As automobiles are built “smarter” with cameras, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, the risk of distraction is ever present. Teach your teen not to tinker with the vehicle’s amenities unless she is at a stop sign, stop light, or pulled over in a safe area.
Consider having your teenager sign an agreement that they will keep their phone out of reach to reduce any temptation to glance at an incoming text or email.
Highlight for your teen how losing focus even temporarily can have a major impact.
Stay abreast of the rules of the road
You may have learned to keep your hands at ten and two, but times they are a’ changin. If you have a teen son or daughter, chances are that it has been awhile since you yourself secured your driver’s license.
Driving laws and guidelines change periodically, so it is important to remain consistent with what your teen is learning in their driving course.
Set aside some time to peruse their manual or go online for the statutes in your area.
Practice what you preach
As your teen approaches driving age, he will likely become more aware of your driving techniques and habits. If you haven’t already, start to practice proper hand placement, focus, safety, and the many lessons you will instill in your teen driver.
Give your teen autonomy
When your new driver checks their blind spot before changing lanes or parallel parks on the first try make sure you give them positive reinforcement. More importantly, though, give your teen the confidence to make decisions on their own.
It may be tempting to continue coaching, but try teaching your child the fundamentals and then set up scenarios to give them an opportunity to put their new skills in practice without your input.
Explore the financial implications of responsible driving
Safety is the first priority in teaching your teen to drive, but there are other factors that are worth exploring as well. Have your young driver look on as you plug in various scenarios for car insurance quotes.
Seeing how violations and accidents impact the bottom line will help to drive home the importance of responsible driving from a different perspective, especially if your teenager knows that their driving record will follow them in the years to come.
With a little bit of preparation and a lot of patience it is possible to maintain your sanity while giving your teen to tools to stay safe and informed behind the wheel. Follow these tips and your child will be well equipped for the road ahead.