We strongly believe that part of the reason teenagers crash more often is that they have not been adequately trained and have not gained enough experience to drive safely. Here are some tips.
Maximize the “Learner’s Permit” year.
- Encourage your teenager to get his or her learner’s permit as early as possible in your state. Do not hold the learner’s permit hostage to things like better grades, better behavior, better attitude. This year is far too important for it to be shortened by those considerations.
- Require your teenager to hold a learner’s permit for a full 12 months before you allow them to take the driving test. Some states only require a new driver to have a learner’s permit for 6 months. That is not enough time. New drivers need more than 6 months training. So, if, for whatever reason, your teen doesn’t get his or her permit until months after he or she can, make sure they understand that you will not allow them to take the driving test until they have had the permit 12 months.
- During the 12 months your child has his permit, provide as much driving teaching and practice as you can, under a variety of conditions. Check your state’s laws. Many now require the parent to sign that they have provided 50 hours of in-the-car driving instruction. Keep a log. Why? Because if you spend 2 hours teaching your teen to drive, it will seem like 10!Now, why a “variety of conditions.” Many of us think to take our kids out for driving practice when it is sunny and warm and really nice out. If it is 34 degrees, dark, and drizzling rain, WHO THINKS TO TAKE THEIR TEEN OUT TO DRIVE? No one does. But this means that the first time your teen drives under very bad weather conditions, they will be alone–because you didn’t give them that supervised practice when you could. Right?
Do I need professional help?
(Perhaps you do, but that’s another topic.) But do you need to get professional driving instruction for your child? Do consider it. There are 3 types, at least that we know of.
- Driver’s Education in School. High-school based drivers’ ed is of questionable value and there is little research to suggest it makes teens better drivers. My advice is to require your child to take driver’s education, but then don’t get complacent about it. Don’t make decisions about whether you will let them drive someplace based on whether they’ve had driver’s ed.
- Crisis driving clinics. Ask around about something in your area. These are typically one-day or weekend workshops in which professionals give teen drivers instruction on crisis driving. They learn to control hard braking and skids, emergency maneuvers, and other parts of driving that are hard for parents to teach.
- Driving schools and private instructors. These can be an excellent choice. Ask around. Many “Community Education” programs in school systems and high schools know of people who provide private instruction.