As a parent, one of the scariest times can be knowing that your teen is going to be driving soon. There are so many things to worry about. There are the logistics of teaching your teen to drive and driver’s education, there are the fears of how your teen will behave behind the wheel, and there are concerns you likely have over other drivers.
Certainly learning to drive will be one of the biggest responsibilities your teen takes on, and while you can’t be in complete control of everything, how as a mom can you help prepare your teen and also avoid going crazy with worry yourself?
Your goal as a parent is to help your teen be a safe driver and to understand the risks and challenges, and the following are some tips to help along the way.
Invest the Time in Teaching Them
Research shows that one of the biggest reasons teens are in accidents as drivers, and unfortunately, more fatal accidents is because they simply aren’t prepared to handle a vehicle and to manage different situations.
As a mom, you can spend as much time as it takes helping your teen to understand as many of the different variables they may encounter on the road as possible. You can’t give them years of experience, but you can help them learn about varied situations and how to handle them.
Some parents rely solely on driver’s education as a way for their teen to learn to drive, and this usually isn’t enough. Most driver’s ed programs provide only around six hours of training time on the road, and it takes much more than that in terms of practicing. The more a teen can practice, often the better prepared they are when it’s time to drive on their own.
Once your teen gets his or her learner’s permit, let them drive with you as much as is possible as well. It might be a little nerve-wracking for them, but this time is important.
When you’re giving driving lessons, there are certain little things you can do that might improve your teen’s success and preparedness. For example, rather than telling your teen what to do in a certain situation, ask them what the correct thing to do is. Also, keep lessons frequent, but short. There’s only so much your teen is going to be able to learn in each driving lesson before they start to lose focus.
Create a Contract
Many states have various graduated license programs in place for teens, but you can go a step further by implementing your own graduated license program, and it can also be helpful to create a contract with your teen.
For example, maybe your personal family contract states that your teen can’t have anyone else in the car with them for the first six months of their license, or maybe you set your own time restrictions as far as when your teen can drive.
When you’re creating a contract, you might want to eliminate all nighttime driving, at least initially. Research shows that more than 40 percent of deaths related to teen drivers occur between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Determine If Your Teen Is Ready To Drive
Along with a lack of practice and experience, a big reason teens are involved in accidents is because they simply aren’t mature enough to drive. Just because a teen may be legally able to get their license, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right option for them.
As a parent, you’re the person who’s best in a position to know whether or not your teen is ready to drive. If you don’t think your teenager is prepared for the responsibility or is mature enough to handle it, you don’t have to let them do it. So many parents think that since it’s a rite of passage they can’t say no, but you can wait a little longer to make sure that your teen has a full understanding of what they’re taking on.
In addition to the tips above, if you want additional peace of mind, think about enrolling your teen in a safe driving class. Safe driving classes are optional for most teen drivers, but they go beyond what you might teach or what’s taught in a driver’s ed class. The added benefit of a safe driving class is the fact that your insurance company may offer you a discount if your teen completes one. A defensive driving class can be helpful as well.