Each year thousands of teens in the United States aged 16–19 years are killed, while hundreds of thousands are treated in emergency departments for injuries – all from motor vehicle crashes. It can become quite daunting when your teenager gets the keys to the car and they decide to take it out for a ride by themselves for the first time. What can you do to ensure your child is fully equipped and ready to take the drivers’ seat?
Preparing your child to drive is a terrifying prospect and you never really know what sort of driver they are going to be until they hop behind the wheel. Talking through with your teenager all the steps involved in driving a motor vehicle is important. Before taking off, have your teenager sit in the driver’s seat and ensure they know where all the controls are. Explain to them the importance of checking their blind spots, mirrors and always watching the road. Starting the drive with a productive conversation about what the expectations of driving are putting the responsibility into your child’s hands. If you have a SatNav, teaching them skills to use it while focussing on the road is also very important at this time.
It is also important that your teenager is exposed to and has had experience driving in all weather conditions. When they are out there driving independently they will not have a choice in regards to the weather conditions, therefore preparing them to fully understand the importance of changing their driving to match the weather is an important step in ensuring their driving success.
Purchasing your child a driving course can assist with building on their driving knowledge and allows them to become responsible drivers in the future. Driving courses no longer have to be practical, with a defensive driving traffic school online, providing participants with a wide range of skills to prepare them for driving. With courses also being provided through community colleges, this ensure children of all learning abilities are catered for.
The last point to make is that you need to build confidence in your child and their driving skills. Despite being nerve wracking being in a car with a new driver, telling them you’re worried only makes it more difficult for them. Allowing your child to make mistakes without overreacting is all apart of learning to drive. Rarely, a new driver gets that reverse park first go, so give your teenager a chance and encourage them when you can. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that quite often experienced drivers can’t get the reverse park either.
There are a variety of skills you can teach your child who is learning to drive, but it is important to trust them and hand over the responsibility to them. Despite being young and still needing to learn a lot about their own driving skills, gaining a license for the first time is an exciting time, and can feel like an entry into adulthood for many teens.