During a global event, such as the coronavirus, most driving schools are temporarily closed and unable to offer driving classes for teens. This is the time children are with their parents at home, making it a perfect time to teach your teen to drive.
Even when driving schools are operational, most parents may prefer to introduce their teens to driving before handing them to a professional driving instructor. So, how exactly do you teach your teen driving?
Most teens will jump at the opportunity to learn driving, as it’s a ticket to freedom. But with every sovereignty comes great responsibility. As a parent, the thought of your teen driving can be terrifying. The high numbers of teen car crash justify the fear of teen driving in comparison to other age groups. Teen drivers have a crash rate almost four times that of drivers 20 years or older.
That means, as a parent, you need to consider your teen’s driving safety. You’ve got to be action-oriented by educating your teen on the nuts and bolts of driving. To help with the process, here are some recommendations.
What Should You Know and Expect
- Allow your teen to make the first move. Depending on what age teenagers are ready to learn to drive, it’s different for every teen. Some might be ready once they meet the age requirement, while others will have to wait until they’re mature enough. Whatever the reason is, please give it to your teen to express their desire by approaching you. Don’t be pushy, as anxiety in a teen driver can result in danger.
- Strategize when and where you are going beforehand. Advise your teen in the area where the driving practice will take place and the skills you’ll be training. Be completely aware of your surroundings and watch all the four sides of the car.
- Master your role as a driving coach. Avoid being carried away by the fact that you’re training your teen; so, avoid being too soft or too rough. Instead, be moderate and specific on what you want your teen to do. Applaud good performance. Also, correct by asking questions, like, ‘when do you change the gear?’ A rather aggressive approach, like, ‘I’ll get you grounded if you continue speeding,’ is such a provocative way to take your teen through driving.
- Start slow and build up steadily. Start on an empty parking lot until your teen is comfortable. Move on to a quiet place with fewer cars and later advance to highways with massive traffic. Also, start during the day when the weather is good.
- Be a good example. Exhibit good driving practices when driving with your teen. Your teen might adopt bad driving habits from you if you aren’t careful.
There are essential skills that are vital for your teen driver. You’ll need to emphasize the skills during the learning process. For the vehicle, mirrors, seat belts, inflation of tires, and inspection are some of the essentials that you should touch on. Safe turns, braking, avoiding distractions, and shifting gears, are a few fundamental operations that are important for your driving teen.
The following are stages of driving that will help you decide the best approach for your teen driver to develop up-to-standard driving skills.
Know Your Vehicle
This stage involves taking your teen driver through how a vehicle works and all vital details about the car. You can assign your teen a driver’s manual as well as a demonstration. Your teen driver should eventually be able to:
- Start and stop the engine
- Turn the headlights and parking lights on and off
- Turn the windshield wipers on and off, and adjust them
- Understand the functions of the different lights and the dashboard
- Fasten seat belts
- Fuel and check the oil as well as the inflated tires
- Change a flat tire
- Know how to go about an accident
The Basic Skills
By getting behind-the-wheel, teach your teen driver how to drive the vehicle, and how you want it done. It can be in an empty parking lot. At this stage, you should show your teen driver how to:
- Signal while making safe turns
- Smoothly stop the car
- Shift gears by use of the manual transmission
- Safely park the car
- Be aware of the surroundings
Coping with Distractions and Interacting with Other Drivers
At this point, you should train your teen driver on how to operate the vehicle with other road-users in their surroundings safely. You’ll require a not-so-busy residential street until your teen is comfortable and confident on a busy road. Here are the skills you should teach your teen driver:
- Safe navigation through intersections, four-way stops, two-way stops, and uncontrolled intersections.
- Smooth and safe lane changes
- Observe and maintain ‘safe cushion’ when in traffic
- Courteous driving
- Adhere to speed limits and to obey traffic rules
- The safe crossing of railroad tracks
- Correct usage of mirrors and be alert at blind spots
Parking and Making Turns
There could be more parking accidents compared to other causes. Driving is one thing; parking is another. To master this skill, you should consider an empty parking lot and a less busy street. Below are the skills you should be able to take your teen driver through.
- Safe parking on an upward or downward hill
- Safe parallel parking
- Pulling into and out of a 90-degree parking space
- Safely making U-turns
- Safely making a three-point turn
To ensure proficiency, the driving skills at this stage are essential as they prove a good understanding of the skills in the first four stages. Therefore, you shouldn’t advocate for expertise at this point without taking your teen driver through the early four stages. At the end of this stage, your teen should be able to:
- Safely drive on freeways as well as merge and change lanes, and observe safe distances between other vehicles.
- Safely drive at night
- Safely drive during snowy, icy, and wet weather.
As a parent, you can’t be able to prevent every mistake your teen driver makes. It’s therefore essential that you enroll them in a driving school for professional training. It’s through professional driving instructors that your teen learns healthy road habits that are crucial for safe driving.