Parents whose teens reach the age when they’re eligible to apply for a provisional licence often feel both nervous and excited. They’re happy to see that their son or daughter is approaching a major milestone, but they’re worried about their child’s safety. Here are ways to ensure that your teen driver understands how serious it is to use safe driving practices and is ready to accept that driving is a privilege that demands responsibility.
Set a Good Example for Your Teen
Teenagers are in the stage of life where they often try to do the opposite of whatever their parents wish them to do. But even though teens may not want to admit it, they are still impressionable and look to their parents for cues. When it comes to driving, they can learn a lot by simply observing their parents’ safe practices. Parents should demonstrate how careful driving gets them to and from places safely. Parental behavior can be very influential, and no lecturing is required.
How can you best demonstrate safe driving? Don’t use your mobile phone while the car is in any gear but Park, stay within the speed limit, always keep your eyes on the road, and try to exaggerate your use of mirrors. You may never be able to convince teens to accept your choice of music, but you can subtly persuade them to adopt good driving behavior by simply modeling it.
Explain the Benefits and Risks of Driving
Driving may be a rite of passage, but it’s one that depends on the willingness to respect the law and the safety of others on the road. As a parent, it’s your duty to point out the risks of driving. Matter-of-factly inform your teen that all drivers must practice safe behaviors, and that the privilege of driving can be taken away due to careless actions.
However, also extoll the benefits of the new-found freedom they will have when they follow the rules. Let them know that you’re prepared to treat them with respect if they demonstrate safe driving behavior.
Enroll Your Teen in a Reputable Driver’s Education Course
A good driver’s education course will help your teen learn:
- Current road rules
- How to use turn signals, switch lanes, perform different types of turns, use a parking brake, parallel park, and master other driving skills
- Learn how to handle emergencies and maneuver the car in hazardous conditions
Your teen must also log in the requisite number of driving practice hours – both with a professional instructor and at home with a parent or guardian. All certified instructors need to hold one of two licences. The pink licence indicates that the instructor is a trainee, and a green licence means the instructor has passed all three of the Driver and Vehicles Standards Agency (DVSA) exams. A pink licence doesn’t mean an instructor isn’t qualified; it only indicates fewer hours of teaching experience.
Just a few years ago, students practicing for their driving exam were not allowed to drive on motorways. But the law changed in 2015, and it’s a good thing it did. It’s beneficial to experience the ways in which driving on motorways is different than on a roadway with a lower speed limit.
Emphasize the Goal of Learning Road Rules and Safe Driving Practices – Not Just Passing the Tests
Since teens are full-time students, they’re accustomed to the rituals of studying for and taking exams. An emphasis on grades and scores may lead some teens to approach test-taking as merely a means to an end, and they’ll use their study time to facilitate passing the test rather than learning the material.
Remind your teen that while they may not need to use trigonometry in the real world, they must learn the rules and safety measures they will need every time they get behind the wheel.
Of course, their knowledge actually will be tested in the real world when they take the driving exam, so it might be easier to convince teens that driver education goes beyond memorizing signs and road rules. The more practice they get before the driving exam, the better they’ll master the skills necessary to be a safe driver.
Ensure Your Teen Has Access to Up-To-Date Study Resources
When teens are enrolled in a driver’s education class that includes classroom instruction, they have the advantage of interacting with the instructor one-on-one and to further discuss a myriad of situations they’ll encounter on the road.
But for students who cannot afford in-person classroom instruction, cannot fit classes into their busy schedules, or who need additional study material to review on their own time, an online course is the ideal solution.
Many students are taking driver’s education courses online or are using mobile apps to learn road rules and safe driving practices. The Zutobi app – available in both the Apple store and on Google Play – offers a comprehensive course that includes the most up-to-date information. It can also help to reinforce learning because it’s fun, engaging and built like a game to keep students motivated. The app also provides plenty of how-tos, driving theory practice tests, tips, guides, and educational materials on everything from pedestrian crossing, parallel parking and pretty much everything you’d ever want to know about driving.
Give Your Teen Enough Time To Learn and Absorb the Material
Your teen is likely counting down the days until he or she is eligible to begin driving. It’s natural to want to have your licence in hand soon after turning seventeen. But make sure they’ve had plenty of time to learn the material and practice driving.
Start preparing well in advance by applying for a provisional driving licence when your son or daughter is three months shy of sixteen, and then encourage your teen to study often. If you’ve decided on classroom instruction, research to find a good instructor who has available sessions that accommodate your teen’s schedule. And also plan ahead for the number of at-home driving practice hours your teen needs to be eligible for a licence.
Just like you, your teen is likely wavering between excitement and fear. Allow enough time for your young driver to understand the importance of adhering to safe driving practices. More time spent reviewing the materials and practicing leads to drivers who not only value safety but who also feel more confident and secure behind the wheel.
Author: Tim Waldenback
Tim Waldenback is the co-founder of Zutobi Drivers Ed, a gamified e-learning platform focused on online drivers education to help teens get their license. Tim founded Zutobi to make world-class driver’s education fun, affordable, and easily accessible for all.