Teaching Teenagers How to Drive? Here's How You Can Make It A Rewarding Experience
Teaching your teenager how to drive is a process that can be both rewarding and terrifying. While you might gain another person who can run to the store last minute to grab extra milk, you will also have another loved one behind the wheel.
Teaching your teenager how to drive safely is becoming increasingly difficult due to the endless distractions from their smartphones and social media. Further, trying to convince teenagers to listen to you is always going to be difficult, even when there’s a set of keys on the other side.
In order to make sure your teenager learns how to stay safe on the road, your best bet is to keep them engaged and make the process fun. Here are a few pointers to ensure that your teenager understands the importance of distraction-free driving.
1. Let Them Take The First Step
Some teens are ready to jump behind the wheel as soon as the law allows it, but others are more timid. While it can feel natural to push them in one direction or another, it’s best to allow them to build up the confidence to drive on their own.
Teenagers can often be anxious drivers when they first start driving, which can lead to unsafe driving conditions. Whether it’s waiting a couple extra months before they start driving or letting them learn at a slower pace, giving your teen the chance to overcome their anxieties will make them a safer driver.
2. Be Careful and Calm as a Teacher
When you’re teaching your teen how to drive, you will be blurring the lines between parent and teacher. It can be easy to fall into your normal communication patterns with your teen, but when teaching them how to drive, it is important to remain calm and give directions carefully.
For instance, if you know a tricky left-hand turn is approaching, rather than saying “Make a left turn now”, try to anticipate their need give them an earlier warning like “You will be making a left turn soon”. It can be easy to forget how natural driving is and all of the skills your teen hasn’t acquired yet. Always remember to take it slow and give positive reinforcement when possible.
3. Start them off Slow
The first couple of times driving can be overwhelming. While nearly everyone does it, being in control of a multi-ton hunk of metal can seem like a daunting task to many. This is why starting off slow and easy is the best way to teach your teen how to drive safely.
Keep it simple at first. You can let them become familiar with the steering and power of their vehicle in an empty parking lot. You should also pick a good-weather day to begin teaching them rather than a rainy day or teaching them at night. Just remember that everyone learns at their own pace and it’s always better to take it slow rather than rushing through the process.
4. Practice Road Awareness with your Teen
One of the most important skills to combat distracted driving is teaching your teen how to maintain 360-degree awareness. Knowing which cars are around you at all times is crucial to maintaining a safe distance and being aware of escape routes if a car swerves towards you or there is an emergency.
A great way to practice this is by quizzing your teen about the number, color, or types of cars around them. You can do this exercise while they’re in the passenger or driver’s seat. It is a fun game that can teach them a life-saving skill.
5. Be a Role Model Driver
This is likely going to be the hardest part for any driving teacher. Almost every parent preaches the “Do as I say, not as I do” ideology. While that might work on most occasions, when teaching your teen how to drive, the stakes become much higher.
So, when it comes to speeding through that yellow light or not fully stopping at the stop sign, you might want to avoid those behaviors, at least when they’re in the car. The most important behavior to watch out for is checking your phone while driving. While this might seem difficult to avoid, this behavior is the most natural for teen drivers. Therefore, being a good role model while you’re in the driver’s seat can go a long way.
6. Make it an Adventure
It’s natural for any teenager to spend less and less time with their family as they grow up but teaching them how to drive gives you a unique chance to spend time with them one-on-one. While state laws will likely only allow your teen to drive within their residing state, teaching them how to drive is a great opportunity to go on a single or multi-day trip with them.
Taking short trips like visiting a local state park, driving to a nearby city, or visiting a theme park will give them the chance to feel rewarded through the learning experience while also practicing their driving in unfamiliar settings.
Setting your Teen Driver on the Right Path
Letting your teen get behind the wheel is a scary endeavor. That is why giving them all the resources they need and being an effective driving teacher is so important.
When it comes to teen drivers, the biggest concern is often distracted driving. To help encourage your teen driver to stay off their phone, you should have them download the app This App Saves Lives. The TASL app is free and is designed to eliminate distracted driving by rewarding points for drivers who don’t use their phones on the road. The points can then be exchanged for rewards such as discounts and prizes from popular brands!
While the prospect of teaching your teen to drive can be frightening, it can also be very rewarding. Learning to drive is incredibly exciting and should be a fun experience for both you and your teenager.