One of the greatest rites of passage is learning to drive. Teenagers cannot wait to get behind the wheel of a car, but this can fill parents with worry and dread. Will your child be safe? Will she be responsible behind the wheel? As a parent, you want to do more than just sit back and worry. Here are five steps you can take to help your teen prepare for this big moment.
Invest in Professional Training
You may not like the idea of paying for that drivers education class, but it can make a big difference. You may not know all of the traffic laws and every little nuance of driving, but the professionals do. They will help your child prepare for emergencies and unexpected situations while making sure they know the finer points of driving a vehicle.
Casual Conversations Ahead of Time
Kids hate being lectured, but they take in more than you think when you have a casual conversation. When your child becomes a teenager and starts taking more of an interest in whats going around him, its time to start the safe driving conversations. When youre out running errands, point out things other drivers do that are safe or dangerous. Encourage your child to also pay attention and point out safe drivers and potentially dangerous behavior. The lessons they learn now will come back to them when theyre needed most.
Address the Cell Phone
Texting and driving is incredibly dangerous, and teen drivers should be discouraged from using the phone at all. Encourage them to turn the phone off and drop it in the glove box while they are driving. Remind them that there is no call or text that is worth their life. If necessary, invest in an app that will allow you to check on them while they are driving and make sure the phone is off. You can even invest in apps that let you check speed and other driving behaviors when you are not in the car.
Sign the Contract
Surprisingly, signing a contract can make your teen a safer driver. With your child, customize a parent-teen contract to spell out the expected rules and remind your teen that safe driving is your top concern. You can request a free consultation from an attorney to determine how to write up the contract.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Nothing replaces the value of practicing safe driving. Let your child be the chauffeur when you go out to run errands. They need time on the highway, in the city and even out on the back roads. Every trip to the store is an opportunity for them to practice and for you to make sure they are ready to start driving solo.
As your child ages, thoughts will naturally turn to driving. They cannot wait to head off on their own, but you are filled with fear at the thought of what can happen. The good news is that you can use these tips to keep your child safe and help him or her avoid accidents.