We can all remember the sense of freedom and adrenaline we felt the first time a set of car-keys was handed to us. Chances are, your teenager will feel the same and can’t wait until the day they get to hit the road all by themselves. Teaching your child about the importance of safe driving will help you ease your mind and overcome the anxiety that will probably hit you every time they ask to borrow the car keys. Follow this guide to prepare yourself for the moment your teen is ready to get behind the wheel.
Prepare Them Before They Get Behind the Wheel
Learning how to be a good driver starts before getting on the driver’s seat. One of the most important rules is to not rush your kid to start driving as soon as they reach the legal age. While some teens may be ready to learn from day one, others may feel reluctant about taking on that much responsibility. Let your kid come to you first when they are ready, because nothing pushes teens away from something faster than anxiety.
Once they start expressing their desire to start driving, it’s time to discuss the how and the when. Don’t insist on driving every day and keep in mind that some people learn faster, while others can take a bit more to master the basics. Put together a plan, kind of like a curriculum to let them know what are the things they will learn. It is recommended to keep the lessons to about 20-30 minutes long, at least until your teen gains more confidence and traffic awareness.
The Five Stages of Driving
Driving instructors recommend spitting the entire learning process into five stages:
- Learning about the vehicle: this includes general information about how the vehicle works, what they need to know about the car in order to maintain its safety. At the end of the first stage, your teen should be able to know how to start and stop the engine, how to use the headlights, parking lights and windshield wipers, as well as how to fasten the seatbelt. Make sure to also explain to them what the various lights on the dashboard mean, how to check the oil and how to fuel the car.
- The basic skills: after they learn the basics of the vehicle, this stage should teach them how to maneuver it. Some of these skills can be learned in an empty parking lot, but others require getting on the road, so make sure to pick an area with low traffic. Your teen should be able to make safe turns, stop the car smoothly, shift gears and back the car straight. They should now be able to show awareness of their surroundings and get ready to hit the road.
- Interacting with the traffic: this stage will teach your teen to safely operate the vehicle around other drivers, pedestrians and other distractions. Start in an area with little to no traffic first, then move to a more crowded area after they feel more confident. By the end of this stage, your kid should be able to navigate safely through all types of intersections, make safe lane changes, recognize and obey traffic signs, use mirrors and maintain a safe distance around other vehicles in traffic.
4.Parking and other turns: after they master the art of driving, they should also be able to safely park and avoid one of the most common reasons for teen car accidents, which is getting in and out of a parking spot. They should be able to safely park on a hill, make a safe U-turn and three-point turn, parallel park and pull in an out of a 90-degree parking space.
5.Advanced skills: after your kid has mastered all of the first four stages, it’s time to teach them some more advanced skills. While sometimes overlooked, they are as important as the basic skills, to make sure your teen stays safe when driving. These skills include driving safely at night, in ice, snow and rain conditions and also on the highway.
Set Up Some Rules
Even after your child receives the driving license, they are still learning how to become a good driver. Setting up some rules to teach them about safety is extremely important in the learning process. They should be able to understand why certain actions can be dangerous for both them and the others around them. To keep things clear, try to derive the rules from the actual traffic rules. Some examples can be:
- No driving under influence: it is extremely important for them to understand the severe consequences driving under influence can have. An Oakland DUI Attorney states that drivers that have used alcohol before getting behind the wheel are twice more likely to cause fatal accidents than drivers that are not under the influence.
- No distractions while driving: this can include drinking, eating, taking more than two friends in the car at the same time or loud music. Teens are more prone to be easily distracted and for beginner drivers this can end with serious damage.
- Everyone in the vehicle should wear seatbelts: this includes the people in the back seat also. Failure to use the seatbelt can lead to three times the risk of injury in case of a crash.
- No driving alone under certain circumstances: for the first few months, it is best to not let your teen drive alone under circumstances that can become dangerous. This includes driving at night, during heavy rain or on icy roads. It is best to accompany them until you make sure they can control the vehicle in those moments.
- No using the phone while driving: no talking, texting, checking GPS or other activities that may distract them from driving. It is recommended that for the first few months, inexperienced drivers should not even use hands-free, as the conversation can distract them.
- No lending the vehicle without permission: sometimes, they might be tempted to their friends borrow the car. No matter how much experience their friend has, they should not let them drive without asking for your permission first