For a teenager, the idea of being able to drive for the first time is an exciting one. It heralds the idea of freedom, being able to leave the house when necessary, heading to places otherwise unreachable without being driven there, and of course, it’s a cool sign of growth and encroaching adulthood. Many of us can remember feeling similarly when this opportunity presented itself.
That said, it’s also important to recognize that while our children can begin learning at the age of 15, that we take a keen interest in their progression, are there to help them through the process, and more important than ever, that we ensure they implement essential grounding principles that will keep them safe on the roads. Often, this comes via being as informed and as educated as possible, and so as experienced drivers, we can help with that to some degree.
If you hope to carefully introduce your teen to responsible driving, feel free to read the advice below. Also, don’t be afraid to leave any comments or insights you yourself have felt appropriate in your own experience:
Choosing An Instructor
Choosing an instructor is a key part of learning to drive. As parents, we can often wish to teach our children how to drive ourselves. After all, it saves us both money, right? The truth is, however, that no matter how good you are at driving, it’s best to use a professional for at least some of the lessons there. This can help your child avoid picking up some of the bad habits you have curated over time, and sometimes, it can be easy to neglect that calm, impartial attitude that many instructors have perfected over the years, which only prevents our children from learning calmly.
Choose an instructor that has great reviews in the local community, one that helps your child feel comfortable, and one that charges reasonable prices. Thankfully, social media is a good place to start. Asking in local groups can often solicit many numbers from people who may have already trained with a certain professional.
Sourcing A Vehicle
Teenagers can be so excited to have any car at all that sourcing one and researching their options may not be as diligently applied a task as it could be. It’s healthy, then, to work with them and help them identify second-hand or auctioned cars worth looking at. Allowing them to learn the difference between engine sizes, and necessary features, inspect vehicles for hidden damage and make sure the seller has documentation, and even learn to negotiate for a certain vehicle, all of this can be achieved with a measured pace.
We can’t blame our teens for struggling to pull all of that off perfectly. It’s a big ask. Thankfully, with a little care and attention, you’re sure to get there, and they’re sure to thank you for it, learning much from watching you in action.
Understanding Basic Maintenance
It’s sad that some teenagers that have their first car purchased from them don’t know how to maintain their vehicles unless they have a problem occur. As a practical road skill, all drivers should know how to change a tire, check the oil level, check their brake fluid, and check and improve tire pressure.
It can also be helpful to go through a vehicle’s manual with them to help identify what the warning signs on the dashboard mean. This way, they can properly identify an issue. This effort can also seem arduous at first, but it prevents our teens from being ripped off by mechanics who know our children are particularly vulnerable.
They also need to understand the paperwork and all of the boring stuff that has to be taken care of when you’re a driver and car owner. That covers everything from maintenance logs to registration tags. Make a wrong move and they could get fined without even knowing why. This blog post covers questions such as ‘can you get car insurance with expired registration?’, so make sure they give it a read.
Essential Ground Rules
Once a teenager has passed their test and has access to their first fully insured, road-legal vehicle, the first thing they want to do is drive it wherever they can. We can’t blame them for that at all.
That said, it may also be that some of their friends or even those in their college or school haven’t access to their own vehicles as of yet. As such, it’s easy for our teens to become the de-facto ‘lift-giver’ at a time when they’re just properly finding their feet on the road. Essential ground rules are essential, then.
We must teach our teens to make sure that they expect a standard of respect in their vehicles, no matter what. That means in order for people to take a ride, they must provide fuel money. They mustn’t smoke or drink in the vehicle. The volume of the radio can’t interfere with safe driving. And most of all, no one else can drive their vehicle – ever.
This way, your teen can put their foot down and avoid giving in to peer pressure, even if they agree to be a designated driver on a night out from time to time.
No matter what age you are, learning to plan your routes is key to ensuring safety on the roads. Knowing your path, and having a backup or two can help you avoid being put in harm’s way, or encountering difficult traffic lines ahead of time.
This can be achieved using services like Google or Apple maps, as well as registering the routes they use on their smartphone or the computer in their vehicle. It’s a great habit for any teen to get into and helps them learn the roads more appropriately.
Essential Car Components
There are certain investments that are more than worth the upfront cost of a vehicle. A tool to break a window from the inside can help them leave in the event of a crash, for instance. A road survival kit can help them if they’re ever stranded in an area, or stuck in the snow. A dashcam can help properly record and identify bad behavior on the roads, potentially helping them provide essential evidence in a road accident case alongside the best car accident lawyers. A combination of these factors can work wonders going forward.
With this advice, you’re certain to carefully introduce your teen to responsible driving and set them off on their road journey in the safest, most responsible manner possible.