As a parent, it’s hard to let go of control as your child matures. Driving is one of the landmark responsibilities your child will take on as just a teenager. It’s scary to imagine your 16-year-old behind the wheel of a car, especially when many adults can’t seem to get a grip on driving themselves. But, it’s something they need to learn how to do as they transition into young adults.
In this article, we’ll share five different things you need to teach your teenage driver. These valuable lessons aren’t meant to teach them how to use a blinker, but rather how to understand and respect the responsibility they are taking on. To learn what these lessons are, keep reading.
Help Them Understand You Won’t be Angry
No teenager should be afraid to call their parents in the event of an emergency.
Whether your child gets into an accident, is too intoxicated to drive, or runs into another problem, they should feel confident enough to call you. Ensure your child that if something does happen, you will not be angry, but rather relieved they are safe and are choosing to ask you for help. This applies even when they are at fault because, as a parent, you need to help them navigate the situation.
Without helping them understand this, they may be in more danger. If your child is too afraid to call you after an accident due to fearing your reaction, they could miss crucial steps in the aftermath of an accident. Alternatively, if your child is intoxicated and chooses to drive instead of calling you for help, they could put themselves and others at serious risk of injury and death.
No matter how angry you may be, please don’t take it out on your child. They will make mistakes but will learn from those mistakes. If you’re concerned about repairs and insurance costs, consider purchasing a new auto insurance plan. You can easily find car insurance estimates online, and many insurance plans offer incentives for new drivers.
Let Them in on a Few Tips and Tricks
You most likely won’t need to teach your child what they’ve already been taught in driving school. As you’re probably aware of, though, there are things driving school doesn’t teach kids. The more your child knows, the less likely they are to panic when faced with a situation.
Some things you may want to consider teaching your child are driving etiquette tips, such as not cutting off other drivers, taking turns merging, and blind spots. Also, tell them always to be aware of who is driving around them. Other specific tips could include peculiarities about the car they’re driving, how to adjust mirrors, and how to watch out for pedestrians.
Teach Them the Reality of What they’re in Control of
Your child needs to realize that they aren’t just driving a car — they are in control of a piece of metal weighing thousands of pounds. As a driver, they should understand the potential damage a car can do to property and people, and how dangerous a car can be.
The less your child respects the car itself, the more likely they are to drive recklessly. The reality is that cars can be dangerous, and people can quickly die in an accident. But don’t let this scare you or your child. The more your child understands this reality, the more he or she will respect the privilege of driving.
Familiarize Them with Different Situations
Nobody drives in the same manner in every scenario. Driving on a highway is much different than navigating a parking lot, plodding in traffic or navigating through a drive-through. While driving school teaches your child the basics of driving, it doesn’t cover what it’s like to drive in these scenarios.
Your child should know what to expect from driving in all types of situations. In a parking lot, they should know to drive slow, yield for pedestrians, and park correctly. On a highway, they should know not to drive too slow or too fast, and always be hyper-aware of what’s happening around them.
In addition to where they’re driving, they should know what to do in adverse road conditions. Driving in rain, snow, and other weather conditions requires knowledge. From little things such as not using your high beams in the rain to what happens if you hydroplane, your child should be prepared.
Teach Them to be Calm
When it comes right down to it, a calm driver is a good driver. Panicking in a driving situation can lead to further mistakes and confusion. The more your child learns how to be calm while driving, the more prepared he or she will be when faced with difficult situations.
It’s also essential for you to be as calm as your child when they are driving. If they make a mistake, don’t yell at them—simply wait for the right moment and correct their error. If you panic, your child will learn to panic too. Even if you are afraid while your child is driving, don’t let your child know that. They need to gain confidence while driving, and you being in a constant state of fear, won’t help at all.
In the end, it will take a lot of time and practice for your child to feel comfortable behind the wheel. The more you support them, the easier this process will be. Instead of being a backseat driver, please encourage your child when they are doing a good job, and give positive reinforcement when they make a mistake. This is a moment in life you’ll need to accept and be comfortable with just as much as they will. Good luck!
Aimee Adams is a freelance writer who focuses on home and auto topics. As a former driving coach, she hopes to share her knowledge with others.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.