Your teenager has hit 15 or 16. You know what that means. Teenagers of that age want to learn to drive. You’d better buckle up. The next few months could be a little bumpy, but if you prepare properly, you and your teen will come out the other side with your sanity intact — and with another competent, prepared driver.
What to Expect When Your Teen Starts Driving
Teenagers are not perfect drivers. They need to learn skills and best practices in driving, just like they did when learning to ride a bicycle. Your teenager may be impatient to get the license and get their own wheels. That’s normal. The best thing to do is to have a plan.
Start by familiarizing them with the car. Go over the elements of a dashboard. Pick a quiet time in a large parking lot for the preliminary lessons. Big-box store parking lots are ideal. Early-morning hours when it’s light but the store isn’t open yet are good, because your teen won’t have to deal with other cars.
You can start with turning and braking. Those skills take some time. Once they can turn and brake, practice open-road driving. A quiet street is the best place to begin. Then move into real traffic, but not on a freeway. Once they have mastered back roads and busier thoroughfares, your teen is ready for freeway driving.
If you want your teen to learn from a pro, lessons are available. Such cars are equipped with brakes for a trainer in the passenger seat for extra safety.
What Not to Do When Your Teen Starts Driving
Don’t stress about this. Remember your own teenage years. Driving is an important step on the road to autonomy and adulthood. Make it as painless as possible.
Don’t be overly critical of your teen’s driving. It’s not going to be perfect at first. Don’t criticize from the passenger’s seat. It can lead to frustration and temper flare-ups, and that’s not good when we drive.
Finding Your Teen the Right Auto Insurance
Teenage drivers have the most accidents of any drivers on the road. People under the age of 20 are three times as likely to be in fatal crashes than folks 20 years old or older. While not all teenagers are unsafe drivers, the cohort of people who drive recklessly or too fast unfortunately includes many teenagers.
As a result, the insurance rates for people in their teenage years are often higher than those for other drivers. You can bring down that bill by having your teen take a defensive driving course. Call around to find the best deal.
Getting a Car for Your Teen
Your teen might want a BMW convertible or a vintage Corvette. But that doesn’t mean it’s a great idea. The best idea is to get your teenager an inexpensive, reliable car for the first several years of their driving life. Here’s why:
- First, they may damage the vehicle in fender benders or even scrapes in the parking lot. They’re still learning, remember?
- Second, they may grind gears or stomp on brakes. Again, they’re still learning.
- Third, teenagers driving with their friends have been known to damage interiors. Spilled tacos, sodas and even burn marks from matches are not unheard of. Matches? It doubtless seemed like a good idea at the time.
An inexpensive car means you are not shelling out only to see the car damaged. Expect that it will have a bumpy life. Scour the ads for a used car with good maintenance records.
Buy a make and model known for reliability. That means it will keep on ticking despite the bumpy, taco-filled rides. It will also be safer for your child, with less chance of breaking down on the side of the highway. Cars with excellent reliability include Honda Civics, Toyota Camrys and Corollas, Subaru Outbacks, and the Ford Focus.
Remember, They’re Still Learning
The period when your teen learns to drive is exciting for them — and you. Make time to let them learn to drive properly. Expect them to be learners not experts. Don’t stress or criticize. Shop around for the best insurance. Buy a car known for reliability. And stay positive, because you will get through this. Happy travels!