While your teen will probably be going to driver’s ed, you can (and should) teach him about some driving rules and etiquette. Even if you’re not a certified driving instructor, chances are you’re a better role model of safe and responsible driving than your teen’s friends.We help you jumpstart the process with some simple tips.
Put on your driving instructor’s hat.
If you want to influence your teen’s driving habits, take time to be his copilot when he goes out for his first spin. The key is to stay cool and alert with your new driver and keep backseat driving to a calm level.
Begin with 15-20 minute practice sessions in an empty parking lot. This a great place to practice starting the car, going forward and backward, accelerating, braking smoothly, and turning right or left without drifting. As he improves, increase practice time to an hour or so, and widen his driving radius. Eventually take a drive at night and then during poor weather.
Help him see.
Ban the cell phone while driving and take out the stereo if you must. In the beginning, it might be the only way to ensure he keeps his eyes on the road and observes all sides of the vehicle and the instrument panel, so he has the guidance to make the right decisions. Then point out things he should notice: turn signals and brake lights of nearby vehicles, cars backing up, children playing, pedestrians, etc.
Plan the practice route.
Choose driving routes a beginner can handle. Practice in quiet neighborhoods before moving on to higher-speed roads and busy intersections. Allow your child to make small trips to nearby places—the park, the grocery, or a neighbor’s house. After 6 months of practicing, gradually introduce him to busier streets and thoroughfares.
Give him a performance report.
As his skills improve, let him take the car out as you tail him in another vehicle. Discuss the practice session before you go. Take note of what he did well and what mistakes he made along the way. Give him an honest assessment.
Mind your own driving.
Keep in mind that while you drive, your teen is sizing up your driving skills. If you’re calm, safe, and know where you’re going, he’ll feel the need to measure up and pattern his driving after yours. Point out other examples of good drivers, and allow him to observe their habits closely.
Tackle peer pressure issues.
Be clear about the rules he needs to obey despite anything his friends might suggest. Tell him stories of disobedience that led to accidents and fatal outcomes. Outline the consequences you will impose if the rules aren’t followed.
Involve him in the upkeep.
Safe driving requires more than just learning the necessary skills. Teach your teen what to listen and feel for when on the road. Put him in charge of scheduling regular car maintenance to keep safe and repair costs low.