Starting a new teen driver out on the road can be a stressful experience. Teen drivers are less experienced and more accident-prone than their parents, thus, they usually cost more to insure. For these reasons, we tend to make safe driving habits the highest priority in those first formative years between the learner’s permit and the high school diploma.
As a parent, you are in the best position to teach and reinforce good driving skills, and the odds are good your new driver is ready and willing to listen and learn from you. Here are a few tips for the first-time driving instructor parent:
1. Be Confident
Your teen needs your knowledge, your experience, and your confidence behind the wheel if they’re going to develop any of their own. Teachers can teach the rules and regulations of the road in the classroom, they can give advice on how to pass a driving exam, but they don’t know your teen the way you do and they can’t take every student out on the road. You are the one they look to first when it comes to driving, so take ownership of that.
2. Be a Safe Driver Yourself
Pay attention to your own driving, whether or not your teen is in the car with you. Would you pass a driving exam today? Spend a little time whenever you drive thinking about your own habits. Teen drivers need to learn to drive within the rules of the road, so while you’re teaching them, you also need to drive within those rules. This includes following posted speed limits and removing distractions like cell phones while you’re driving.
3. Get the Facts on Teen Driving
Most states have special Graduated Driver Licensing laws and special rules for new drivers intended to encourage the right behaviors and discourage the wrong ones. Learn these. For Pennsylvania drivers, this link will get you started. Also, learn the specifics of the driving exam and what your teen will be tested on.
4. Make Your Expectations and Consequences Clear
Be encouraging when your teen exhibits good driving behaviors; your praise is welcome. Consider drawing up a driving contract; here is a sample contract you can customize.
5. Stay Involved
Even after your teen passes their test and gets their license, continue to monitor their driving. Monitoring devices and downloadable apps are available to provide data and feedback on driving habits. Continue coaching them about safe driving and make yourself available to review and reinforce their skills on the road. 16- and 17-year-old drivers are much more receptive to safe driving advice than drivers 18 and over, so make the most of this window of time.