Ahh! They’re going to start driving soon!
Once your teen has fulfilled the necessary requirements for your state (such as passing the written test), they are ready for their learner’s permit. Many parents have strong emotions about this time in their child’s life.
You may experience raw fear and panic. What if they get into an accident? What if one of their friends gets into an accident and my child is in the car? What if my son rear-ends some jerk who claims whiplash and sues us? What if the car breaks down in the middle of the highway?
Since you can’t chauffeur your child for the rest of their life, you must come to terms with the fact that your teen needs to become a responsible adult driver. And the only way to deal with this fear is to equip your teen with the skills, knowledge and experience of a safe driver.
Remember that another side effect of creating a safe, smart, and skillful teenage driver is that one day they can drive themselves to all of their activities. Maybe they can also drive their little brothers and sisters to their activities as well!
Learning to drive requires at least six months of practice.
Driving is a skill that must be thoroughly practiced in order to be mastered. There is no substitute for time behind the wheel. That’s why we have created a series of benchmarks that will help guide you through a typical six month learning process. Obviously, these articles are just an outline and cannot replace the instruction of a professional driving school.
The most important thing to remember is that your teen is about to embark on learning the most dangerous activity they’ll probably ever engage in. Take it seriously and so will they. And don’t sign off on letting your teen have the keys to the family car until they’ve proven themselves.
Learning a new skill means making mistakes.
While learning to walk, toddlers fall down hundreds, if not thousands of times. Each time they fall, they’re learning vital information that will help them do better on their next attempt. Luckily, these mistakes usually do not have disastrous consequences. Perhaps there’ll be some crying and a few bumps and bruises, but nothing life-threatening. Unfortunately, when learning to drive, the stakes are much higher.
A right-of-way mistake on the highway could cause a fatal crash. So, you must start your training with small bits of information in a safe environment. As each skill is mastered, add increasing levels of complexity, distraction, and even danger.
Yes, danger. Driving is a dangerous activity. Eventually, you must expose your teen to nearly every driving scenario so that they will be ready to handle it on their own. If you don’t, you’re doing them a disservice.
This takes time. There is no way to speed this process up or to take shortcuts. You and your teen must put in the practice time. The purpose of these lessons is to make that time productive, safe, and amicable.
Don’t give them the keys just because they turned 16.
You cannot turn your teen loose on the open roads just because they turn 16. Obviously, as a parent, you don’t want to withhold this privilege from your child.
So, lay down the ground rules during the first practice. Explain the entirety of the practice schedule and that you expect them to master a list of tasks before you’ll let them drive on their own.
Driving is a monumental responsibility and your teen is looking forward to learning. Practice with a purpose, have fun, and be safe.
Now, on to your first behind-the-wheel lesson!