Teaching Teens to Drive: MetLife Offers Five Simple Tips

Many parents probably remember the day their teen received their learner’s permit and first asked to borrow the family car. For moms and dads, it can be scary to think of their children out on the road. If you taught them well, you can be assured they’ll make the right decisions when behind the wheel, but you can’t always count on other drivers to be responsible and safe. As parents, you may not be able to be with your children every waking hour, making sure they do the right thing, but if you have trained them well, then letting go of some control over them gets easier.

This is especially true when it comes time to teaching your teen to drive. Considering that auto-related accidents are the leading cause of death for young people aged 15 to 20 years, it is so important for parents to be a part of their teen’s driving education. Studying good driving habits from a trusted adult has proven to help save the lives of many teens during their first year of driving. Lack of education and experience both contribute to poor decision making by teens, and parents can help with both.

According to insurance company MetLife Auto & Home, there are a few simple steps you can take to help your teen while learning to drive:

– Be a good driving example. Your children won’t always do what you say, but they will do what you do. If you teach them to follow speed limit signs, wear a seatbelt, and be sober — you better be prepared to follow up your words with actions. Even at an early age, children absorb what goes on around them. Being a responsible and safe driver will help your teens learn by example.

– Get a view from the passenger’s side. It’s easy to be a “backseat driver” when you forget what it’s like to be a passenger. If you’re the one always behind the wheel, take a trip with someone in the passenger seat, so you remember what it’s like to be a passenger under normal conditions. That way, when your teen drives you around, you’ll know it’s normal for mailboxes to whiz by at the edge of the road.

– Short and patient lessons are best. When lessons are short, your teen is more likely to remember all that was covered. Also, it leaves less time for either one of you to become frustrated and impatient. You want to end your lessons on a good note, so keep it short and simple.

– Write down your progress. Some states require you to record the number of hours spent behind the wheel with your teen, so it makes sense to keep a log of the dates you train, what you covered, and how long you spent. You can also keep track of what needs improving upon, so that it can be covered again on a future date.

– Keep your eyes open and voice down. Everyone knows that teenagers get defensive when their parents get angry, and loud voices and criticisms are sure to have the same effect. When riding in the passenger seat, it’s best for parents to remain calm. At the same time, keeping an eye out for hazards or irresponsible drivers is important. Alert your teen to any dangers, and even if they are able to avoid them, teach them about the importance of defensive driving and being prepared for the unexpected.

An information guide, “Teaching Your Teens to Drive (Without Driving Each Other Crazy!),” is available from MetLife Auto & Home by calling 1-800-MET-LIFE.

Create your own customized Parent-Teen Driving Contract online based on the recommendations from the Driver Education Handbook for Parents. Our interactive tool will help you and your teen compose a practical contract of rules regarding driving expectations and car privileges that both parties can agree on.