Learning to drive is one of the major milestones of becoming an adult. Almost every teenager looks forward to the freedom and thrill that comes with being able to drive instead of riding along with parents or older friends.
But at the same time, these years can be particularly scary to parents, who may find themselves envisioning fender benders, wrecked cars, or, worst of all, injury to their child.
Preparing for a teen driver isn’t just about driver education and setting rules (although that is a major part of it). It’s also about parents preparing themselves for their teen to be driving, which might require some work, both practically and emotionally.
Make Sure Your Teen is Ready to Learn to Drive
In some states, teenagers can legally drive as young as 15 years old. That doesn’t mean that every 15-year-old is emotionally or intellectually mature enough to handle the responsibility of driving.
If you feel your teenager isn’t ready to get a driver’s license, then you may be better off waiting until you feel the time is right — even if they vehemently disagree. Let them keep practicing with a learner’s permit and an experienced driver in the car until you’re more confident in their driving ability.
Even well into their teen years, kids are sponges for new information — they learn by watching others and often emulating it. This makes it of utmost importance that you set a good example for your teen driver.
That means things like avoiding road rage, showing consideration for other drivers and the law, and setting rules for yourself that you might break if you were on your own: not stopping entirely at a stop sign, speeding toward a yellow light, or flipping that U-turn.
Part of learning to drive is learning the details of vehicle ownership and maintenance. You should help your teen learn the finer points, such as how to register a vehicle, why regular maintenance of your car is important, maybe even how to pump their own gas.
None of us are born knowing this stuff, and it may not be covered in a driver’s education course — so help make sure they have the tools they need to help keep themselves safe.
This may induce some eye-rolling and resistance by your teenager, but one of the best ways to set boundaries and rules for your child’s driving is to get it in writing.
Lay out a comprehensive list of all the rules they are to follow as a new driver — such as no driving at night, no passengers, no use of phones or other devices while driving, and so on — and have them sign it. If you feel it would work better by adding some further incentive, then go for it.
As a parent, you naturally want to teach your kids as much as you can personally — but there’s only so much you can do, and a professional can likely do a great deal more.
If you think it’s possible you might tend to overreact and create tension during a driving lesson, or if your teenager is resisting following your instructions during that same lesson, then a driving school may be a better choice for all involved.
If your teenager is going to have their own car — either one they’ve earned themselves or one you purchase for them — you should first do some vetting to make sure it’s suitable for a teen driver.
Sporty models and high-performance vehicles should be avoided in most circumstances, and some parents prefer larger vehicles because they can better withstand crashes. In any event, you should look for the car with the best safety rating you can get for the money, that’s also in good shape.
By nature, teen drivers are a more high-risk demographic when it comes to car insurance. The natural recklessness of youth, along with inexperience, makes teenagers especially risky to insure. Because those rates can be so high, you might consider adding them to your policy instead, which will undoubtedly be cheaper than adding a second policy.
You should also shop around for car insurance that might be better than the policy you currently have, to save even more money.
Speaking of insurance rates — one thing insurance companies frequently offer to lower rates is adding a telematics device to your car. These devices can monitor driving habits, track locations, and keep tabs on fine details like speeding and hard braking.
Having one of these in a vehicle can not only help bring those insurance premiums down, but having that kind of tracking data on hand might encourage your teenager to drive a little more wisely.
Preparing for a Teen Driver
With some planning ahead, you can prepare for a teen driver, successfully. The process teaches valuable life lessons for your teen driver. It is all about the process and parenting through it.