When it’s time to teach your teenager to drive, it can feel bittersweet. New independence means fewer calls for rides, but it is also another step before your child becomes an adult.
Driving also exposes your child to new risks and dangers. Teenagers tend to be easily distracted, and when that combines with driving a vehicle, the results can be devastating.
Here are some of the essential skills to teach your teen as they get ready to drive.
Managing attention and distractions
The car will never be completely free from distractions. Even when your teenager is driving alone, the environment both in and around the vehicle could change at any time, requiring some or all of their attention.
One of the best ways to teach teens to manage their attention is to give them as much supervised practice as possible. While your teen is learning to manage more than one action at a time, take them to an empty parking lot or other open space where they can learn how to operate the controls of the car while focusing on the road ahead.
Practice safe habits
Routines are part of what can help you build safe habits for your teenager. When their “getting ready to drive” routine is the same every time they drive with you, they are more likely to include these habits when they are driving on their own. You can have them include habits such as:
- Visually inspecting the vehicle before getting in
- Setting up GPS before starting the car
- Putting on a seatbelt and asking passengers to do the same
You may also want to limit the number of young passengers your teenager has while they are getting more comfortable driving.
What to do in an accident
Accidents will happen. Your teenager should know what to do immediately after an accident, including:
- Calling 911 for help
- Getting vehicles to the side of the road, if possible
- Exchanging contact information
When your teenager has the skills they need to stay safe on the road and they know how to deal with accidents when they happen, they can be safer and more confident drivers.