It’s that time: your teen is learning to drive. The thought of your teen driving a car may make you anxious, but there are plenty of ways that you can make sure your teen is safe while they are behind the wheel.
Teaching your teen to drive can be difficult because it is very easy to become a backseat driver. Criticizing your teen from the passenger seat is an easy trap to fall into. In fact, 21% of US drivers have admitted to being backseat drivers. Excessive backseat driving can be incredibly distracting for your teen while they are driving your car.
The more you prepare your teen for driving before you both set foot in a car, the less backseat driving you will have to do. You can avoid becoming the dreaded “backseat driver” if you use several methods.
Create a Plan
Create a plan with your teen that maps out your designated route before your teen starts driving. Review the route in detail and pay special attention to busy intersections and assorted hazards. If it’s the first time your teen is driving with you, you should create a route that only involves quiet residential streets. You can always incorporate routes with busy roads and highways after your teen has a few driving sessions with you under their belt.
Give Advanced Warning
Remember that you are teaching your child to drive and it is your job to give them an advanced warning if you are approaching a dangerous intersection. You should avoid shouting instructions or a potentially dangerous situation. This will likely make your teen nervous. Talk as little as possible and let your teen take the initiative. Stay calm and refrain from scolding your teen if they make a mistake.
Provide Your Teen with Specific Feedback
You should give your teen constructive feedback on how they drove after each driving session. Focus on what your teen did well and what they still need to work on. Your teen may have put their turn signal on before moving into the left-hand lane, which is a good safe driving habit. Your teen may need to stay more focused while they drive, but you need to explain this in a neutral tone. Explain to your teen that he or she shouldn’t ever take their eyes off the road. This puts both the driver and passengers in the car at risk to be a victim of an auto accident.
Increase the Amount of Time Your Teen Drives in Increments
Start with a 15-minute driving session. After your teen completes that 15-minute driving session, plan a 30-minute driving session for your teen the next time they drive. Your teen will become more comfortable if you teach them in small increments. It can be very easy to be overwhelmed while you are learning to drive. Ease your teen’s mind so that they can become a confident, safe, and responsible driver.