For many parents, their teen getting a driver’s license is a convenience to work toward. After all, once your teen can drive unsupervised, you can spend less time shuttling people around and your new driver can help run errands, right? Except this assumes that your teen becomes a great, safe driver the second he or she receives a license, which we know isn’t true.
A permit or license allows your teen to get behind the wheel, but it doesn’t mean your job is over. Driving is one of the most dangerous things we do each day, and inexperienced teens face additional risks. Car crashes are the leading cause of preventable deaths among teens but regular practice in different driving situations can help reduce your teen’s crash risk. So commit to staying involved as your teen learns to drive, and use these lessons to spend at least 30 minutes practicing each week. Here are some tips to keep in mind during those practice sessions.
New drivers have a lot to learn, so don’t expect your teen to remember every detail of every lesson you practice together. Review the basics for new drivers regularly, and be positive when your teen makes improvements. If you haven’t already, look over our first set of lessons for new drivers to ensure you don’t miss anything.
Your goal should not be to throw your teen straight into the deep end: it should be to set your teen up for success. That means paying close attention to your new driver’s skills and not putting him or her in a situation that’s likely to escalate out of control. If your teen hasn’t actually driven yet, don’t have him or her get onto the highway during the first lesson. Monitor your teen’s progress, be patient and practice skills repeatedly until your teen knows them well.
No matter what you teach your teen, he or she will always study your own behavior behind the wheel. That’s why it’s crucial for you set a good example on every drive. If you allow yourself excuses, your teen will make those excuses, too. But if you drive the way you want your teen to drive, he or she will have a great lead to follow.