Tips for Teaching Your Teen to Drive
Learning to drive is an exciting time for both you and your teenager. You might be looking forward to not having to drive them around much longer, but you might also have some concerns and anxiety with your child behind the wheel. There are some things to keep in mind and make sure your teen is aware of before heading out on the road.
Talk About Car Maintenance
Many driver’s education programs focus on the road’s rules and laws, but your car will perform best if it is properly maintained. Stress to your new driver the importance of keeping up with maintenance checks; they likely do not want to be left stranded in the event of a breakdown.
Talk about the importance of getting an oil change every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, depending on the type of oil your car uses. Don’t forget to talk about changing fluids and the air filter. A car that runs well will be the safest and most reliable choice for your teen to practice driving in.
Stress the Importance of Good Tires
Teenagers tend to overcompensate or overreact on the road. Naturally, you will want them to be in a car that has good tires so that it can stop quickly and have excellent traction. Look at your tires now. Check your tread using the classic “Penny Test” by placing a penny between the treads. Can you see Lincoln’s head? If so, then it is time to start tire shopping.
If you live in an area with harsh winters, you will want your new driver to get some experience dealing with snow and ice. If they are driving a small, lightweight car, you might want to consider some winter tires for better traction. Don’t forget to talk to your child about the importance of having your tires checked by professionals as well. Tire rotations can be a good way to increase the life of your tires.
Talk About Phones, and Set an Example
It is crucial in today’s world that your teen is fully aware of the dangers of distracted driving. Make it clear to your new driver that cell phone use while driving should not be tolerated, and, in most cases, is against the law. No calling, no texting, period. Avoid hands-free units as well, as new drivers should keep their total focus on the road. Remind them that it is not okay to do any of these things at a red light or stop sign, either.
Set an example for them by following these rules as well. Other dangerous distractions can include eating or drinking while driving, loud music, and having others in the car. Make sure your teen knows all this and refrains from these actions, too.
Talk About the Rules of the Road
Most driver’s education programs emphasize the rules and laws that apply when driving, but it never hurts to go over these with your child. Talk about speed limits, stop lights, and passing. Your child might find it easy to hear these things in the classroom, but putting them into practice on the road can be a completely different experience. Make sure they don’t have any questions about laws and rules.
Sharing the Road
It can be hard enough to learn to drive, but your teen will also have to consider the actions of other drivers. Emphasize to your child they should never assume what other drivers are doing. We’ve all seen that driver with their turn signal on who never turns. Talk to your teen about becoming familiar with driving defensively. It is better to play it safe, and that might mean waiting a few extra seconds before pulling out.
Have an Emergency Plan
Unfortunately, teen drivers face a high risk of accidents. Talk to your child about having an accident plan in the event something goes wrong. If there is an accident, immediately call 911 to report the accident and any injuries. Make sure your teen knows that it is important to get information from the other drivers that are involved; this includes names, addresses, phone numbers and insurance information. If the accident is minor, it is okay to pull off to the side where you will be out of the way, but, otherwise, never move cars without getting pictures of the scene.
Teaching Your Teen to Drive
Driving can be fun, especially for someone experiencing it for the first time. Have some extra patience with your new driver and answer their questions. By stressing the importance of safety, maintenance, and the laws of the road, your teen will have a solid foundation for being a safe and responsible young driver.