Although many teens log driving practice hours with a local driving school, the responsibility of teaching teens to drive quite often falls to the parents. It’s common for parents to feel apprehensive, nervous, and even unqualified for this role. With some advanced planning, you can help your teen transition safely from supervised driving to independent driving.
One Year In Advance: Set Good Examples
Long before your teen receives his or her learners’ permit, demonstrate the kind of safe driving behaviors you want your teen to follow, including never using a cell phone or another electronic device while driving. Distracted driving is dangerous for everyone, but many studies show that risks are much higher for novice drivers who engage in manual-visual tasks, such as texting while driving. More “teachable” moments include obeying the posted speed limit, coming to a full stop at stop signs, and wearing a seatbelt at all times.
Less Than a Year in Advance: Discuss Dangerous Behaviors
Talk with your teen about the consequences of unsafe behaviors and other hazards that are common for a new driver. Parents can help teens understand how certain behaviors behind the wheel may increase the risk of a crash. Those behaviors include tailgating, speeding, drowsy driving, or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Six Months in Advance: Set Specific Expectations
Talk with your teen about his or her plans for driving. Does she or he plan on driving daily? Has the family figured out what car he or she will be using? Discuss the legal and financial responsibilities of being a licensed driver, such as insurance premiums, repair costs, and fines for unsafe driving. Establish any driving rules of the house, including when and where your teen is allowed to drive.
Four Months in Advance: Practice, Practice, Practice
By now, your teen probably has a learners’ permit. Set to not just meet your state minimum requirements on driver training, but to exceed them. It takes a long time to learn to drive well. The more a new driver gains experience, the better.
Three Months in Advance: Plan for the Unexpected
Talk with teens about what to do if they are in a car accident or get a flat tire. Help them pack an emergency kit for the car and discuss what they will do if their car breaks down on the road. Make sure they have the number for roadside assistance, if you have a service that you can call.
License Day and the Future: Keep the Conversation Going
Stay involved even after her or she gets a driver’s license. Let your teen know its ok to ask for help, guidance, or even more practice. Remember, even after a new driver the keys, continuing to talk about safe behavior and your expectations can help reinforce and encourage good decision making.