Learning how to drive is one of the biggest milestones of a teen’s life. However, it can be fraught with uncertainty for both the teens and their parents. If you have a child who is getting ready to learn how to drive, you need to make sure that you’re both in the right mindset. Below are four topics to keep in mind in order to help your child (and you) have confidence in learning to drive.
It’s distressing just how normalized distracted driving has become. While intoxicated driving is rightfully condemned, too many people seem to think that distracted driving is no big deal. Teen Driver Source explains, “Distraction was a key factor in 58 percent of crashes involving drivers ages 16 to 19, according to an analysis of video footage of 1,691 moderate-to-severe crashes 6 seconds before they occurred.” In order to set the best example for your child, you need to make sure you’re never driving distracted. Cell phones are often one of the biggest culprits in distracted driving. Put your cell phone on silent and in the glove compartment or a closed purse when driving, and teach your child to do the same. There’s a time and a place for everything, and driving is neither the time nor the place for using a phone.
Reality and Responsibility
Being given a driver’s license is a privilege, not a right. There’s a reason why there’s a test before you can get your license. However, getting a license can often cause drivers to think that they don’t need to adhere to safety. As a result, they end up getting into accidents, which can be catastrophic. The reality of car accidents is different than what movies portray. According to Braud & Gallagher, “the injuries accident victims endure are often severe. It is not uncommon for survivors to suffer from critical injuries such as traumatic brain damage, amputations, third-degree burns, spinal cord injuries, organ failure, PTSD, broken bones, and internal bleeding.” Your child needs to know that braving these consequences to shave a couple of minutes off a commute is not worth it.
When it comes to driving, there’s no substitute for thorough practice. If driving comes easy to you, it’s because of how much time you’ve put in. When your child starts driving, they won’t be great immediately. That’s exactly why it’s so important to practice on a consistent basis. You want to start slowly, with basic techniques like starting and stopping. Before you know it, your child will be merging on the highway with the utmost confidence. Practicing things like exit maneuvers can help to create muscle memory that will be useful during an unexpected event. ADDittude recommends, “teaching good habits and principles can greatly help in the long term. Have teens practice things that they probably won’t do regularly, but are helpful to know anyway. When your teen is driving ask them questions to test them in the moment. Ask what they are distracted by, and what they want to do while driving that might not be good.”
Driving with your teen can take some getting used to. There’s going to be mistakes and possibly some high emotions from both of you. However, every part of the journey is important. You need to exhibit as much patience as possible. Your child can’t be expected to become a good driver if they’re stressed out by your teaching. A story from Extra Mile describes a situation where, “I was teaching my son to drive, and the first time he got close to clipping a parked car, I yelled, he jumped and we stopped in the middle of the street, while we waited for our hearts to stop racing. The cars behind our car almost collided into us. If I had been patient, and understanding instead of tense and yelling that situation wouldn’t have happened.” Offer them constructive criticism that keeps them encouraged while also indicating what they can improve upon. Being a parent means being a mentor to your children, and this is a great way to demonstrate that.
Confidence is distinct from arrogance. It doesn’t mean knowing what to do at all times. It means giving things a shot and taking criticism in order to move forward. There is a great driver inside of your teen. Try to help you teen recognize how to improve themselves. You just need to provide the proper encouragement and guidance to help them to become mindful and patient drivers.