Teaching Your Teen to Drive
February 3, 2009
Teaching your teen to drive is an exciting and highly anticipated rite of passage that means greater independence lies ahead. It may also be a time of mixed emotions. Many parents look forward to the day when they won’t be their teen’s main source of transportation, but they may also feel anxious about how safe their teen will be behind the wheel.
A plan of action will reduce the anxiety you feel about teaching your teen to drive. There are several actions you can take before you even allow your teen behind the wheel.
New drivers copy driving behaviors they have witnessed for years as passengers. Since they have probably ridden most often with parents, those behaviors are the ones they will imitate. To some parents, this is a somewhat frightening prospect. To make matters worse, teens who integrate risky driving practices into their own behavior do so without the benefit of years of experience and highly developed skills. Before you begin teaching your teen to drive, consider your own driving habits and make a commitment to correct any careless or reckless behavior and model good defensive driving practices consistently.
Another important aspect of teaching new drivers is good communication. Teens tune out lectures, so parents should work on developing a conversational rapport about safe driving with their children. Try to be concise; avoid going off on tangents. Ask for your teen’s opinion on hazards in your driving environment. For example, if you see children playing near the street, ask your teen to explain the risks and how to handle them. You can fill in details garnered from your own experience after your teen has a chance to be heard. Although it’s important to talk about driving risks, avoid horror stories. Instead, look for driving-related newspaper articles or subscribe to the National Safety Commission’s Safe Driving Teen Monthly Bulletin and discuss the articles together.
To help your teen understand more about the costs and responsibility of driving, review your insurance policy together, visit your insurance company’s website together, or pay a joint visit to your insurance agent’s office. Explain, or ask your agent to explain, the purpose of motor vehicle insurance. Discuss the cost of insurance and how the cost of your policy might increase or decrease. Ask your insurance agent whether a driver education course will result in a discount. Find out how much your insurance premium will increase after a single ticket or crash.
For many parents, driving is such an ingrained habit that they must refresh their knowledge about fundamental driving concepts. Doing so can only help you to be a better driving instructor to your teen, which in turn will help your teen be a better, safer driver.