11 Tips for Parents of New Drivers
When your children reach driving age, the stress of parenting can reach new heights. Kids dream about the independence that they will get when they get a driver’s license. As a parent, however, you are more likely to be worried about the dangers that come with driving.
You worry about the commitment of your teenager to basic driving rules and whether their car would stay scratch-free during this period. How do you help your teenagers keep safe and make the transition smoothly? Read on to find out.
1. Enrol Your Teen in Driver’s Ed Training
Teaching your child how to drive can cause stress and anxiety for both of you, so it’s better to call on the pros. Protect your sanity and enrol your teen for driver’s education training. There are a number of benefits to getting professional help in ensuring your child gets proper training. Your children can learn how to tackle several specific scenarios, get to know the rules of the road, including the ones you’ve forgotten, as well as other relevant details such as protective driving.
You will have peace of mind knowing your teens are getting the training and experience they need to become a competent driver.
2. Provide Adequate Supervised Driving Practice
Give your teens at least 70 hours of closely supervised driving practice after going through a formal driving training course. The number of hours may sound overwhelming but it is necessary.
To achieve this, maintain a driving log and adopt a driving lesson schedule to ensure that within the first year after licensing, you give your teen plenty of varied driving experience.
3. Practice in Different Road Conditions
It is safer to learn to drive on bright, sunny days but to be a good driver, your children must learn to drive in less-than-optimal situations. Make sure that the classes cover all seasons so that they can practice rain and ice driving and send them out at dusk and dawn so that they can know how to cope with extra glare and changing conditions in lighting. Construction areas are often safe places to practice learning reading traffic signals and to negotiate tight corners.
4. Have Your Children Sign a Safe-driving Agreement
Work out a safe-driving agreement between you and your child. The agreement encourages your child to drive safely.
The agreement should point out some of the more risky driving situations for children, such as driving at night or on rough highways, driving with adults in the vehicle, or under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. To make the agreement effective, it should be voluntary and you should provide rewards for good behaviour, as well as consequences for bad behaviour.
5. Monitor Progress with the Aid of an App
There are lots of gadgets that you can install in your car but for this purpose, the best will be smartphone apps that track driving behaviours and automatically send text messages immediately when teens arrive safely at their destinations. These apps help you to monitor the progress that your children are making with their driving by monitoring their pace, hard braking, position, and so on. These apps also provide you with new opportunities to teach.
Find a compromise between caring and being overly protective. Ensure your teen subscribes to the idea of tracking their progress before installing any app in the car.
6. Start Slowly at the Beginning
It’s best to start slowly with your teenage drivers. Start by making them drive to get groceries at a nearby supermarket or to visit a neighbourhood friend. Then add more distance as time goes by and as they keep to the rules you’ve specifically established. When they don’t obey the rules, set the penalties, and adhere to them.
7. Choose the Appropriate Vehicle
When it comes to choosing the right car for your teen, your teenage children don’t need the luxury that a large car that is built for families brings. Fuel efficiency is great with a smaller engine. Also, remember that insurance providers charge more for cars with powerful engines because they are more likely to lead to accidents.
8. Check Your Children’s Cars Regularly
Inspect your teen’s vehicle’s tyres, body, and instrument panels regularly. Even though you’ve told them what to look out for, they can still miss details. Doing this helps you monitor their progress and reminds them of good driving behaviour.
9. Prepare Your Children for Emergencies
Your teenage drivers need to know what to do in case of an accident. Often, when accidents happen, new drivers panic; you need to prepare them emotionally and psychologically for that and let them know how to handle the situation and who to contact.
Ensure your kids always drive with a first aid kit, flashlight, batteries, and fire extinguisher in their car. Also, help them develop the habit of carrying their registration with them.
10. Don’t Overreact When Accidents Happen
Accidents happen, that is why you (should) have insurance in the first place. You should expect your teenage driver to make mistakes every now and then, and when they do, don’t get upset. Help them to correct their driving mistakes and learn from them. Don’t let accidents prevent your children from hitting an important landmark in their lives. When accidents happen, gently help them to get back on the road.
Sure, it’s good to allow a little time to pass before giving driving another try. However, don’t allow them to quit.
Also, help them to understand that it’s not the last time mishaps will happen. Such situations provide the best opportunity to train them to drive well. Inculcate in them the courage to face their fears and try again after they fail.
11. Lead by Example
Children are always learning from you, so make sure you show them safe driving habits once you get in your car. Make sure to wear your seatbelt at all times, do not tailgate, be courteous to other drivers, even when they cut you off, keep your mobile phone put away, and follow the laws of the road.
When you can’t really wait to reply to a message, just pull over before you start typing or taking a call. Don’t underestimate how it will affect the child’s behaviour. Be conscious of the fact that they are observing you, and they will do as you do.
Parents play a vital role in encouraging adolescents to establish safe driving behaviours. Admittedly, for both the learner and the adult it may be a difficult period in their lives but you can manage it.
Start off with a pledge to be a caring, compassionate and helpful mentor. Encourage good driving behaviour and instill in them the confidence they need to drive a car safely under all circumstances.
Have frank debates about their driving rights, the laws, and the implications. And most of all, lead by example. Always remember: it’s about protection and not power.