By Bailey May
Picture this: you just got home from the DMV, and your son has his driver’s permit in hand. That means Driver’s Ed and lessons are starting soon. Are you ready to teach patiently and calmly as your child climbs behind the wheel? Before you start, talk to your insurance agent and make sure all appropriate coverage is in place.
According to Agent Crystal Decker, “It is best to call and speak to your current insurance agent about when you must add your child, whether at permit stage or when a license is obtained. Have your agent provide quotes for adding your child to your existing policy, but also have your agent quote with other carriers to see what options are available. To keep your child safe and insurance rates low, monitor your child as a driver and insist on good driving behavior and good grades, which can both be used to get discounts on your policy.”
Now, buckle up with these tips to turn a bumpy road to teen driving into a smoother one!
- Be the Student
Here’s the time to step in the mindset of your teenager. Have another adult sit in the passenger seat and teach you how to drive. They need to tell you where the pedals are, how the turn signals work and where the switch for the headlights is located. This person should offer encouragement to you as you pull out of the driveway.
- Pick the Place
It’s finally time to get in the car with your new driver.
Try to find someplace without much around. Put that abandoned empty parking lot to good use. Why? Because your kid is most likely going to mix up the gas and the brake pedal and it needs to be scary enough to stop them from doing it again without the use of airbags.
Go back to that perfect lot in every type of weather to help your new driver overcome new challenges. The important thing is that your teen knows what these things feel like from behind the wheel.
- Keep it Short
Keep the sessions short and sweet for both of your sanities. 15 to 20 minutes is plenty of time for teaching the basics without building up the frustration.
- There’s a First Time for Everything
This is probably your kid’s first time behind the wheel of anything. He’s going to struggle with the placement of everything a.k.a. the pedals, switches and knobs. He needs to get used to it and practice, practice, practice. Another good thing to talk about with your new driver as he’s dealing with some driving “firsts” is car insurance. Let them know it’s a necessary part of driving a car, and that it is illegal to drive without it. Teach them the basics of this insurance, where it’s located and why it’s important.
- Turn it Off
Turn off everything for your practice sessions. No GPS, no radio and NO CELL PHONES. Radio and GPS will just distract your new driver from your wisdom. Cellphones are an absolute no-no when you’re in the car with your kid. Don’t plug it into the radio and turn off the Bluetooth feature. None of it should be on. Also, you should be in control of your console, not your new driver.
- Start Your Modeling Career
You should be modeling good driver behavior when you’re outside of your driving sessions. Be sure also to point out your own mistakes. Note when you should have slowed down for a yellow light, or let your kid see when a fellow driver is upset when you accidentally cut them off. Seeing you mess up teaches your child as much as does being the perfect driver.
- Increase the Difficulty
Once your child has mastered the parking lot and the residential street with a few cars, he can move on to the busy street with traffic lights and pedestrians. Follow that with adding more lanes and then head to the highway. Your new driver should get each “level” of difficulty down cold before moving on.
- If You Love Them, Set Them Free
The time has arrived; it’s time to set them free. You’ve done a lot of practice sessions and have given excellent guidance to your new driver. Keep in mind that there is no longer another set of eyes in the car to help out your kid. Give them more practice by sending them out for some small errands and give them a time to get back by.
“Handing your child the car keys for the first time is bound to be exciting — and scary. For your teen, driving invites a thrilling move toward independence and freedom, but also comes with the tremendous responsibility of getting behind the wheel of a machine that can cause a lot of damage if not driven carefully and appropriately,” Decker explains. “I have two children that are youthful drivers and although I may be scared to death at times when riding with them, it’s important that I teach them how to properly operate a motor vehicle and respect other drivers on the road. It’s important to always wear your seat belt, whether driving or riding!”
It’s time for your teen to hit the road (or empty parking lot) and learn a new skill. With you by their side, they’re unstoppable. This journey will have its highs and lows, but in the end, you’ll have another driver in the house to help you run errands and what’s better than that?