How To Teach a Teen To Drive and Make It Out Alive
Teen drivers face many difficult challenges on the road today — perhaps even more so than when you were a young driver. Fortunately, your teenager has someone like you to pass on some safe driving tips and techniques. Below are a few things to keep in mind that will help you teach your teen how to drive and make it out alive.
1. Make Sure You Understand The Rules Of The Road Yourself
When was the last time you took a driver’s education class or looked over the driver’s handbook for your state? If it’s been several years or decades — or never — then do yourself and your teenager a favor and head down to the local public library to pick up a copy. You need to know everything that is in that book, and your teen needs to know it too. In fact, you might even argue that your teen needs it more than you do, since she will be taking a written test that covers some fairly obscure driving laws.
So read your state’s driver’s handbook, and then make sure your teen reads it too.
2. Spend Some Time Cruising The Information Highway
A great way to supplement the driver’s handbook is with an online driving course. There are several different ones out there with a variety of price tags attached — some are even free — but there’s one thing they all have: they help young drivers learn how to drive. You can only get so much from a book, but with an online driving course, you will usually have access to videos as well. These are invaluable. There is no better substitute for actually getting behind the wheel than watching professional driving instruction videos.
3. Get Your Teen Behind The Wheel As Often As Possible
No matter how great those books, videos and online courses are, driving is a skill that must be learned by doing. Your teen needs to drive every day. Hopefully, that doesn’t sound too daunting. If it does, then look at it this way: whose driving habits would you rather have instilled in your teen? If she doesn’t learn it from you, she’ll learn it from her friends. So now is the time to spend as many hours in the passenger seat with her as possible.
4. Teach Your Teen Defensive Driving Techniques
The first rule of the road is this: expect the unexpected! The safest drivers on the road today are the ones who watch out for the crazies. Teach your teen defensive driving techniques like the following:
- Maintain a 3–4 second following distance
- Don’t allow yourself to be boxed in on all sides
- Notice what’s happening 1–2 miles down the road
- Don’t drive behind large trucks
- Don’t make unnecessary lane changes
- Reduce speed at night and when roads are wet
5. Spend A Lot Of Time In Parking Lots
Most parents worry about their teen drivers getting involved in high-speed collisions, and that is a legitimate concern, but it’s actually more likely that your teen will bump into a parked car at the mall than get into a 14-car pileup. Make sure you spend plenty of time teaching your teen how to park properly: parallel parking out on the street, forward parking in crowded parking lots and reverse parking in the driveway at home too.
6. Consider Hiring A Professional Driving Instructor
Let’s face it. Your teenager listens to other people more than they listen to you. Well, that might not be literally true, since our kids actually pay more attention to us than we realize. But it sure seems that they argue and butt heads with us constantly, and this is no more true than when teaching them to drive.
Have you ever gone out for a drive with your teen and had such a frustrating and miserable time that neither one of you wanted to do it ever again? Most of us have experienced that, both as teenagers ourselves and as parents too. This is where bringing in a third party can take the pressure off both of you. Your kid might argue with you or blurt out, “I know!” every time you remind her to use her turn signal or look over her shoulder, but she’s not likely to do that with an instructor.
Having an instructor doesn’t just make it easier for the parents, though. It’s easier for the student too. Without realizing it, you probably put a lot of pressure on your teen wherever you go out for driving practice. By replacing you with an instructor, the drama is greatly reduced and it’s easier for your teen to focus on the task at hand. It’s also easier for her to accept instruction and correction.
At least consider it.
Teaching your teen how to drive safely can be a daunting task, but it’s one that will prove valuable to both of you. Follow these tips and give your teen the tools and knowledge needed to be a safe, responsible and happy driver.