Most teenagers see a driver’s license as a step toward freedom, but most parents do not feel their teen is ready for the road. Teenage drivers have a higher rate of crashes, mainly because of their immaturity and lack of skills and experience. They speed, make mistakes, and are easily distracted, especially if their friends are in the car. I always say; it’s not if a teenage driver will have an accident, it is when.
One thing we have learned as parents is sending your child out driving on their own is stressful. Many of us have 20+ years of experience and take driving as second nature. We know to anticipate the other drivers based upon this experience. These are things that can only be developed over time. However, this does not mean we should sit back and leave things to fate.
Give your teenager plenty of practice behind the wheel in varying conditions. It can never be too much. Try to use calm clear directions, even when you wish there was a brake pedal on your side. Driving in an empty parking lot in the snow to see how slipping can happen and how to react is a great experience.
Discussing the tremendous responsibility your teen is about to accept with a driver’s license is very important. Talk to them about the dangers of driving under the influence, distracted driving, including texting, social media or even messing with the radio.
Spend some time showing how to perform routine maintenance, such as air pressure in the tires, where to check the oil and where to add windshield washer fluid. It is helpful to review where to find the insurance and registration card and what to do in the event of an accident or breakdown.
Lastly, please remember to lead by example. More often children learn from what they see rather than what they hear. Whether they show it or not, you have a greater influence on your teenager than you think.