While teaching a teen to drive can be a dreaded experience for any parent, it’s a great way to prepare him or her to be a safe and competent driver. The risk of a teen getting into a fatal car accident is three times higher than that of an adult aged 20 and above. By giving his or her driving education the serious attention it requires, a parent can help his or her teen avoid becoming another statistic. Here are four actionable tips a parent can use to teach a teen to drive safely.
Grasping the Basic Driving Skills
A parent should ensure the driving lessons are in line with the current skill level of the teen. This involves teaching the basics during the first few lessons. The teen should get used to sitting behind the wheel before he or she can actually start driving. Giving him or her an organized and detailed tour of the car, from the gas and brake pedals, dashboard controls, turn signals, to parking brakes, is a great place for parents to start.
Showing him or her how to adjust the mirrors and how to correctly position the hands on the wheel is also important. The teen should drive only when he or she has mastered all of the basics and can repeat everything back to the parent.
The first lesson should take place in an empty and clear space, such as a parking lot. That way, the teen can practice igniting, turning, or stopping the vehicle at various speeds in an area that is free of obstacles. Once the teen has basic skills for navigating obstacles, the parent can introduce traffic cones.
Before hitting the road with a teen, the parent should identify the best route to use. The teen is traveling through an unfamiliar area behind the wheel and learning a new skill, all the while aware that one slight mistake could result in disastrous consequences. It is, therefore, wise to give him or her more organization and predictability.
Avoiding congested highways and freeways that may be beyond his or her skill level, especially during the first few days, can make the driving lessons enjoyable for both the teen and the parent. Without mapping the route in advance, avoiding those areas would be impossible.
Identifying the Skills to Practice
Besides mapping the route before each lesson, the parent should also determine the skills the teen will learn in each session. It could be navigating toll booths, maintaining a safe following distance, or parallel parking. Keeping these in mind during the planning phase can help a parent choose a route that has all the things he or she wants the teen to learn. If he or she wants the teen to practice parallel parking, for instance, there should be plenty of opportunities on the selected route.
Eliminating Unnecessary Distractions
AAA lists distracted driving as one of the main causes of car accidents involving teen drivers. Therefore, when teaching a teen to drive, the parent should get rid of unnecessary distractions to ensure all the attention is on the road. He or she should also avoid playing music or using a phone. Although the parent isn’t the one driving, he or she serves as the second pair of eyes for the teen until the teen can comfortably navigate obstacles and look for cars independently. Moreover, the teen can learn safe driving habits by just watching how the parent behaves as an instructor.