Parent Driving Guide
Watching as your teenager begins to drive may be one of the scariest things you will have to face as a parent. At Kurt's Autobody, we want to help make the process as easy as possible by providing you with helpful tips, useful information, and applicable education on teaching your child to drive. And, along with methods and tips on teaching your child to drive, you can also explore ways to cope once your child has their license and no longer needs you as they hit the open road.
The Right Car
Many parents want to purchase brand new cars for their young teenage drivers. While exciting for your teen and rewarding for you to be able to afford such a wonderful gift, it is important that your teen has a safe, reliable vehicle to drive initially. And, though you may not want to consider it, teens are more likely to get in a car accident after getting their license. So, you will want to be sure your teen's car can handle an impact in case the worst should happen. Once they have demonstrated good driving skills and responsibility, maybe they can graduate to a better-looking car. Experts say when looking for your teen's first car, think old, large, and solid. Old station wagons and sedans with small engines will provide optimum protection. Just make sure they know how to operate a larger vehicle –- negotiating turns and steering into parking spaces can be a little trickier with a larger car. Also be sure to check the vehicle's history. You can go to www.carfax.com for a full report.
Before they have their permit.
Even before kids get their permits, they are watching how you drive. Any bad driving habits that you may possess, they are observing - and may even begin to imitate once they get their permit. Be aware of your driving habits. Do you speed? Do you yell at other drivers who cut you off? Are you reckless? Children will notice these things and most likely believe it to be okay or normal to behave in these ways. First, teach your kids good driving habits by setting a good example of your own. Be cautious, obey speed limits, resist "road rage", and respect other drivers.
Talk about drinking and driving. It is never too early to warn kids about the dangers of underage drinking and driving. They need to understand early on the consequences that go along with the action.
Once they have their permit.
The State of Illinois requires a minimum of 50 driving hours with an adult. Require even more. Require your child gets more than 50 hours of driving time and during different conditions - day, night, rain, snow, etc. The more practice they have, the better prepared they will be - and the better you will feel when they set off on their own.
Draw up a driving contract. This contract is a promise between you and your child about their driving privileges, as well as an outline of your expectations for them. The contract could include which car or cars they are allowed to drive, how many passengers they can have, how late they can drive, and what they are expected to pay for and keep up on their vehicle. With a contract set into place before they get the license, you will have set a foundation for good driving behavior.
Teach your child how to care for the car they will be driving. Make sure they know how to check the oil or the tire pressure, what the dashboard warning lights mean, and who to call should a breakdown occur. Being safe doesn't just mean driving safe - it also means staying safe by keeping the vehicle in the best running condition to prevent accidents.
Be a supportive and positive driving teacher.
While it may be difficult at first, you need to learn how to become a patient and supportive driving teacher when your teenager is first getting behind the wheel. Yelling and panicking will not help you or your teen feel safe. Keep the following in mind as you set out with your teen.
- Throughout the lesson, check to make sure your teen understands what you are saying and what they are doing. Just because you give them an instruction doesn't mean they will grasp what you are trying to tell them initially.
- Give your instructions in real time. Have them perform the actions you are saying as you are saying them. But be sure to give them enough time to react –- don't tell them to turn the corner at the corner.
- Give praise or offer constructive criticism as it happens. Try and highlight the positive with the negative. For example, "you braked in just the right amount of time to turn that corner, but you were going a little too fast as you turned. Try and slow down a little more next time as you are making the turn."
- Try and be the co-pilot instead of the taskmaster. Don't just shout out orders. Help your teen navigate.
- Keep alert to the road. You have to keep your eyes on the road at all times … you even should be more alert than your teen. You will notice things quicker than they will because of your experience, so you need to be extra alert.
Once they have their license.
The consequences of drunk driving can range from loss of license and insurance to loss of life. Make a pact with your teenage driver. If your teenager drinks any alcohol, he/she will call you, no matter the time of day/night, for a ride. He/she will not get behind the wheel. In return, you will agree to not ask any questions or demand any answers until the following day. This pact should also apply when your teenager is being driven by someone else - young or old - who has been drinking.
Make sure your child has a safe and reliable car. Whether you buy it or give it to them or they purchase it on their own, make sure it runs properly and is equipped to protect any passengers should an accident occur.
Drive with them. Just because your teen has their license, doesn't mean you should stop riding as their passenger. When running errands with your child, have them drive you. This way, you can continue seeing how their skills have progressed and if there are any reasons for concern.