The day your child hits the road on their own for the first time can be one of the proudest and scariest moments in your life. Teaching a teen to drive and supporting them through driver’s education and license tests can be tough, but the work doesn’t end there. In the first few years of driving, your teen will form habits that will last a lifetime, and likely experience mistakes and tough situations that they’ve never had to deal with before. Working with our friends at Atlantic Lexus, we’ve pulled together some advice for parents of teen drivers. Read on to learn more about how to support your child through this exciting and important time, and how to make sure that both you and your young driver stay safe, confident, and comfortable.
Continue to drive with your teen.
While your teen was learning to drive, you probably had them take the wheel on the way home from soccer practice or to and from the grocery store. Now that they have their license and can drive themselves places, you might not spend as much time in the car with them, and you probably wouldn’t be as likely to suggest that they drive. Making a point to ride along with your child every now and then, however, is the easiest and most natural way to keep an eye on their driving habits. Every now and then, ask them to drive, and pay attention to little things like turn signal use, driving with both hands, and checking mirrors. Habits like this are the things that often slip away the fastest when someone gets comfortable behind the wheel.
Set expectations and hold yourselves to them.
Make sure to have a conversation early on about car use, when and where you’re okay with your teen driving, whether or not they’ll be paying for their own gas, etc. There are no universal rules, and what you decide on will depend on a lot of things, such as how far away your child’s school is, whether or not they have a job or are involved in extra curriculars, if they have their own vehicle, and what you personally are comfortable with.
Whatever you decide upon, it’s best to have your expectations laid out up front, that way you can avoid arguments or misunderstandings later. If you need help getting the conversation started, you can go online and look up “New Driver Deals” or “Parent/Child Driving Agreements” to find printable templates.
Make sure your child is prepared for anything.
In addition to learning the ins and outs of driving, your teen should become comfortable with the responsibilities that come along with car ownership. Even if they’re just driving your vehicle for now, you should teach your child about checking their oil and tire pressure, changing a flat, what to do if the check engine light comes on and more. Another good idea is to buy or assemble a roadside emergency kit. These kits can be found online and in stores, or you can pull together your own set of supplies. Having the necessary supplies to handle a minor emergency such as a dead battery or a flat tire is important for drivers of any age or experience level.
Monitor their driving remotely.
With the technology of today, there are many ways you can monitor your child’s driving habits even when you’re not there. Smartphone apps such as MamaBear or Canary connect your phone to theirs and can alert you to actions such as excessive speed or texting while the vehicle is in motion. If you want even more information, you can buy a Bouncie device, a transmitter that stays in the vehicle and connects to your phone. Bouncie gives you real time information about driving habits like excessive speed or rapid acceleration, and also lets you define curfews and “Geo Circles” and will alert you if your teen violates these restrictions.
Getting your child through driver’s ed and onto the road as a licensed driver is a fantastic accomplishment on both your part and theirs. Remember, though: your work doesn’t end here! Maintaining open communications with your young driver and keeping an eye on their habits, as well as continuing their education in the realm of vehicle ownership, maintenance, and use is incredibly important. Keep these tips in mind and make sure that your teen forms good habits that will last them a lifetime!