Probably nothing can prepare you for the moment you’re first in the passenger seat and it’s your teen behind the wheel, driver’s permit in hand and at least forty hours of necessary hours to be put under the belt before they can upgrade to an official license. You have at least a year before that happens, however, and in that year you as a parent need to allow your teen-turned-student as much experience as possible so they’re prepared for solo driving. You can look to official driving schools to do this, but you want a personal touch to take your kid on their intrepid first journey and show them the know how yourself. It’s an intimidating time for the both of you, but we have some tips to make this process a little easier for you and your teen so you remain in control and give them a great learning experience.
Be Calm, Stay Positive
Your mood will set the beat for the rest of your rides together, and there’s no need to stress them out with your worry or criticism. When you’re nervous, they’ll be even more nervous, and that helps nobody. Sit relaxed and focus on the road for the most part but for crucial moments you need to study their performance. Offer kind reminders of the rules of the road as you travel, and correct any mistake as soon as you see it so they don’t build bad habits and they can focus in the moment rather than think through their actions a minute ago.
Introduce Concepts Gradually
Proceed at their and your own comfort level; there’s certainly no need to immediately head toward the highway on-ramp. You can start within an empty section of the parking lot so that they understand acceleration and brake pressures, how much of an angle the steering wheel needs to be in to turn and how to park. Proceed to light-traffic roadways, and give them as much time as they need to feel comfortable jumping onto more major avenues. Most importantly, voice your thought process to them ahead of time. It’s better to calmly instruct “Let’s start braking now” rather than demand a sudden stop after you realize they hadn’t slowed quickly enough. Make it known that they definitely don’t have to complete the journey, and you can take over if they get too stressed or tired.
Intercept in Emergencies
You’ll probably feel slightly helpless while in the passenger seat, watching your teen at the helm of the car. After all, you don’t have any passenger brake like those specialized driver’s ed cars, but you have some means to aid your teen’s control the car should they panic. Nudges to the steering wheel can correct their trajectory, or save from a severe mistake if they really get off course. Alfa Romeo of Larchmont, NY reminds us that pedals can get confusing to a first-time driver, and it’s suddenly easy to imagine your teen confusing the brake for the gas or vice versa, isn’t it? If your vehicle isn’t equipped with a center console emergency brake, the next best thing you can do is be ready to grab the gear knob and shift the car to neutral so as to minimize out of control acceleration.
Prepare for The Future
Soon, your teen will be driving on their own, and responsible of their own actions. That doesn’t mean you have to leave them high and dry, though. Make sure they have a few extra adult contacts listed in their phone that you trust who can help out in case you aren’t available in an emergency. Make sure the car has an updated copy of insurance in the glovebox, and teach them what to do in the event of an accident. Driver’s ed doesn’t teach what information you should exchange nor what happens after you crashed, and it’s a possibility you should definitely prepare for. Also important is what they should do when being pulled over by the police. Traffic violations happen, and knowledge is their best defense from panicking.
It’s time to hand over the keys, parents! This is an exciting step in life for your teen, and you want them to have an enjoyable and positive time learning with you as their copilot so that they’re prepared for the road ahead. It’s time to relinquish just a little control to help them become great drivers, and now you know some great tips to keep in mind to make it stress free for the both of you.
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