The teenage years of a person is when they feel like exploring more of the world around them and pushing their known boundaries. If you’re the parent of a teenager, this is the time when you’ll experience your kid pushing back against your usual rules, and this can be hard to understand sometimes. One of the things they do that can frustrate you is going behind the wheel as an inexperienced, irresponsible driver.
When teaching your teenage child the basics of safe driving, the best thing you can do for them is to guide and monitor him at this stage when he’s still learning how to drive. Although he might feel a bit annoyed and think you’re being overprotective, pay him no mind. When it’s the life of your child at stake, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Before you allow your child to drive on his own, there are things you must consider, and the first of them is if he is ready to drive. He must be knowledgeable about the basic and advanced features of a car, and he must be comfortable operating it on the road.
Preparing Your Teenager to Drive
Prior to teaching your kid how to drive, you must first teach him the basics.
- First on your list of things to do is to make him aware of the different controls and features of a car. He must know about the following and what they can do:
- Steering wheel
- Seat adjustment and mirror adjustment
- Dashboard controls
- Turn signals
- Safety features such as seat belts and air bags
- Parking brake/release
- Emergency lights
- Gas and brakes
- Starting and turning off the engine
- Warning indicator lights on the dashboard
In addition to this, he must also know where the car manual, insurance card, and registration can be found. Teach him how to tilt the steering wheel and adjust the seats as well as the rearview and side mirrors according to their needs.
- Allow him first to get a feel for driving by starting in the safest location there is: an empty parking lot or an isolated roadway. At this stage, let your teen practice basic car operating skills like applying brakes and gas, making turns, driving straight, backing up, and pulling into and out of a parking spot. Once your teen has started mastering these skills, slowly and gradually make the lessons more complicated. For instance, you can now start training him in areas that a little bit more traffic as you teach him about sticking to one lane, looking out for cars backing up out of driveways, and pulling up at stop signs. Alongside these skills, you must also train him to pay attention to their surroundings. As your teen slowly steps up in his training, you must also teach him more advanced skills and techniques in driving.
- Follow your instincts when determining when your teen is ready to drive alone. This will depend not so much on his age but on his acquired skills and driving habits. To make the decision easier for you, you can ask yourself the following questions:
- Has he practiced enough so that his reflexes when driving are better and he knows how to handle certain roadway situations?
- Can he detect driving hazards better and react to them quickly and accordingly? Has he learned the important skill of checking for hazards no matter where he goes?
- Does he exhibit responsible habits such as always wearing his seatbelt and not texting or using a phone while driving? Does he remind others to do the same?
- Does he drive responsibly and not aggressively? Has he learned not to be a “speed demon” when on the road?
- Does he know how to deal with frustrating incidents like when other motorists cut him off? If he’s the type who’s hot-tempered, does he not let his temper get the better of him?
- Does he exhibit responsibility in other areas of his life? Can you trust him to drive a car safely and responsibly?
The answer to these questions will determine if your teen is ready to handle the responsibility of driving alone. Even if he is already of legal age to drive and get a license, he doesn’t deserve it if he hasn’t learned to do the above.
Rules Your Teenage Driver Should Follow
If he has become better enough in his driving and has also earned your trust as a responsible driver, then it’s time for you to finally allow him to drive on his own. However, there are still some ground rules and reminders you’d need to set.
- Think defense, not offense.
Defensive driving will save his life in more ways than one when he’s on the road. It entails keeping a safe distance away from the car directly in front of you (more when the weather is bad), keeping your eyes on the road, and remaining aware of what’s going on on all sides of him. It also entails always expecting the unexpected, such as strangers suddenly cutting in front of him to huge trucks suddenly coming at him to animals crossing the road.
- No speeding at all.
This is something you should put your foot down about. Teenaagers often have this urge to break the rules, and your teen might not be different. This is why you must sit down with your child, have a serious talk with him, and make him understand that the rules are there to protect him and keep him safe.
- Always wear seat belts.
You’d think this advice should go without saying, but you’d be surprised to learn how many people go without wearing their seat belts while in a moving vehicle, even among adult drivers. In fact, it has been the cause of many deaths and injuries in car accidents. Reinforce the message to always wear seat belts to your teen driver.
- Do not drink and drive.
This is the most harmful combination of all. When one is drunk, it greatly impairs his ability to drive properly and even affects his eye-hand coordination skills. This can increase the risk of him getting into an accident.
- Don’t use the phone while driving.
Another harmful habit that can get him into trouble is distracted driving, the most common form of which is texting while driving. Teenagers are fond of using their phones, and your kid might not be any different. You must make him understand that his safety is at stake if he uses his phone while driving.
Protecting Your Teenage Driver
As a parent, what can you do to protect your child when he is finally driving on his own? At some point in his training, you must let him go and allow him to get used to driving on his own. But there are ways you can ensure the safety of your teen even if you are not with him in the car.
- Buy a car that’s safe for him to use as a newbie driver. Avoid sporty-type vehicles as these can only encourage your teenager to test its performance, thus leading them to increase its speed. Pickup trucks and SUVs are also not a good choice as they’re too bulky and might roll over in a crash. We recommend mid- and full-sized cars, especially the later model types as they have sufficient weight and also offer updated safety features. Speaking of safety features, you should look for cars that offer extra airbags in addition to the standard ones for the driver and passenger.
- Assemble a car safety kit for your teenage driver. While he is on the road, anything can happen to your kid. His car might break down, or he could get stranded in a remote location because of bad weather. In such instances, it would be beneficial to him to have a kit full of helpful items such as tools and flashlights as well as extra food and water.
- Invest in a GPS tracking device that will not only track his location but also monitor certain details about the vehicle such as its speed and acceleration. A GPS tracker like Tracki will be useful in checking if your teenager maintains responsible driving habits such as avoiding speeding. It also tracks his location so you can monitor if he is where he says he is or if he is in a dangerous part of town. Moreover, it has an SOS button that your teen can use if he ever gets into trouble; with just one push of the button, an alert is instantly sent to you so you can get in touch with or go to him right away. Tracki also has a long-lasting battery so you can use it for a long time without needing to charge it. It can even be hardwired to your car. Finally, it has one of the most cost-effective monthly subscription plans in the market. Talk about ensuring the safety of your teen driver while also not busting your budget, right?