Teaching Your Teen to Drive

teaching your teen to driveHaving a new driver in your family can be a nerve-wracking experience.  As a parent, your mind somehow jumps to all of the things that can possibly go wrong, and how your newly-permitted driver is yet unequipped to handle different situations in a car.  Teaching your teen to drive takes patience and the ability to be objective – you need to provide guidance instead of criticism. We hope the following five tips will help you as you wind your way through these sometimes stressful moments!

Stay Calm
No matter what happens, it is important to remain calm.  Yes, grab the uh-oh handle and step on the imaginary brake pedal on the passenger side of the car if you must, but take a deep breath and remain calm.  Dealing with situations on the road are stressful enough for a new driver and losing your cool won’t help.  If you need to calm yourself, find a good place to pull over and take a walk around the car until you are ready to continue.

Talking to Your Teen Respectfully (i.e. Don’t Yell – Ever)
Instead of saying “You need to slow down more around corners”, maybe go with something along the lines of “How do you feel you handled that last turn?”.  Your job as a driving instructor is different from that of a parent.  Your job is to get them to think for themselves about what they are doing and how to make adjustments to stay safe on the roads.  Be respectful and make them think.

Allowing Them to Learn in a Multitude of Situations
Yes, it is snowing and the roads may be slick.  It’s dark and foggy and the visibility is poor.  It’s pouring rain out and the windshield wipers are a bit wonky on the car.  It’s rush hour and there’s a lot of traffic on the highway.  There’s always a good excuse to opt to not allow your teen to drive, but dealing with these situations will help to make them better drivers.  Knowing how to handle a snowy roadway or a busy highway is important and the only way for them to learn to navigate these situations well is by giving them the opportunity to practice.  It may not be the most comfortable experience for you, but it is important for them.

Know the Rules of the Road
If you passed your test 30 years ago, you should definitely take a look through the manual as a refresher. Knowing the rules of the road will be part of the drivers test and if you aren’t familiar with the rules (some things may be different), you can’t  adequately guide your teenager – and you may even mislead them into thinking that something they are doing is okay when it is not.

It’s Not About How to Operate a Car
Driver education is not about how the car works.  Things like how to change a tire or checking the fluid levels, tire pressure, etc. are important to know, but it’s a different part of the new driver training.  Every car is a little bit different in where things are, how they handle, etc., but it’s also mostly the same.  Operating a vehicle and driving safely are two different things.

Focus on the Main Things:
The four main items to spend your time on are speed, space, observation and communication.  If you can get your teen to be thinking of these whenever they get behind the wheel, you will be well on your way to training a safe driver.  If they can master these four things during their training, then you have done your job.

Extra Bonus Insurance Tip: A teen or young adult with a learner’s permit in New York State accompanied by a licensed adult supervisor does not need to have their own insurance policy. Once they become a licensed driver, they should be added to your policy or you can consider getting them their own insurance.

If you have any insurance-related questions, please feel free to contact our team at Bieritz Insurance – 209 Main Street in Cooperstown (607-547-02951) or at Morris Insurance, 128 Main Street in Morris (607-263-5170).