Teaching your teenager to drive

1 Feb 16

Your teenager starts nagging you to let them have a go at driving, but the idea of them behind the wheel puts a sense of dread in your stomach.

However, teaching your teenager to drive is just another milestone in helping them gain independence on their way to adulthood. You could fork out the cash and hire someone else to deal with this, but why should you when you yourself possess the very skills that your teen is willing to learn?

By teaching them yourself, you are assured that you are giving them the necessary knowledge and experience before they hit the roads on their own.

The Transport Accident Commission for Victoria states that young drivers aged 18 to 25 accounted for 23 per cent of all driving fatalities in 20121. This is because they are less experienced and more likely to take risks on the road.

Make sure your teenager gets the best possible driving education possible during the crucial years leading up to independent driving. There is no substitute for being safe - it'll keep everyone on the roads, drivers and pedestrians alike, out of harm's way.

Perks of parent teaching

You are your child's first teacher. Though overused, there is truth to this statement.

There are many perks of teaching your teenager yourself. First and foremost, it's personal. You know your child better than any professional driving instructor. Also, you know their limits, what motivates them and the way they learn best. Suit your teaching methods to match their personality.

This is something that an instructor may not have. You could be paying a professional that doesn't get along well with your teenager, who is most likely excited, scared and worried about getting behind the wheel of a vehicle for the first time.

 

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Tips for the teacher

Of course, letting a young adult drive a moving vehicle is terrifying for the both of you. Take it as slow as possible, until you're both ready to move to newer skills.

Start with educating them about the car. Let them sit in the driver's seat in a stationary vehicle. Show them the basics, even if it seems obvious. Get them to push the pedals while the engine is off, and start the car a few times so they get the feel of the engine.

Talk them through everything. Communication is key when teaching, and helps both parties keep a level head. Try and stay as calm as possible, and if needed, hover by the hand brake to reassure the both of you.

Educating yourself is also necessary. Each state has different licencing requirements, starting at different ages. For example, in ACT, your teenager can only get their learner licence when they are at least 15 years and nine months2 whereas in NSW, your teen needs to be at least 16 years of age3.

If your teenager is learning in their own used car, make sure you get a CarHistory report to help you feel confident that it is safe for them to drive.

Encourage an inquisitive mind

Remind your teenager to ask questions, even for the simplest of things. That way, all the lines of communication are clear and there is no confusion, especially for something as important as driving.

Getting them to speak their actions aloud also helps with learning. By voicing their intentions, you know what is running through their mind when they are consumed by the task of driving. This ensures that you are guiding them in the correct direction.

Remember, you were once a learner driver too. Teaching may be frustrating at times, but take it slow and keep in mind that in the future, if you need someone to do the grocery shopping, there'll be another well-educated driver at hand.

1TAC, Safer P Platers. Accessed December, 2015.
2ACT Road Ready, Licence to drive. Accessed December, 2015.
3Roads & Maritime NSW, Learner Licence. Accessed December, 2015.