When your child has passed their driving test, it is one of the biggest milestones in their lives. It’s an amazing achievement that we need to celebrate, and naturally, you will want to celebrate because your child is going to be out of the house more! But of all the freedom that comes with driving, we can easily become concerned with the dangers that are on the road. The first year of driving is the most important because it can be one of the most dangerous, but it can also yield some of the most important lessons. Unfortunately, teen drivers are more involved in crashes than any other type of driver, but rather than panicking, let’s show you what information you and your child need to know when they are out on the road for the first time.
Understanding the Importance of Maintenance
The fact is that your child is going to want to get out and hit the road as soon as they pass their test, but maintenance is one of those things that we all need to have up our sleeves. A well-maintained car is going to be prepared for any situation. And from the basics to the more advanced issues, such as filling up the gas tank to tire pressure and any icons on the instrument panel that comes up, everything needs to be discussed.
While your child may very well want to start making alterations to their car by installing coilovers to lower the suspension, one of the most important lessons we’ve got to teach our kids is that if they really want to get an understanding of those aspects, they’ve got to know the basics first. This means teaching them how to change a tire first before they can alter their suspension. The fact is that when our kids want to make alterations to their car, it’s purely in the name of aesthetics, but the reality is that many people make poor choices with regards to these additional items, and if they really want to make changes to their suspension, they have got to get the basics in their brain first.
Talking About Drinking and Driving
While we all know we should never drink and drive, teenage drivers may require more reminding the most. The fact is that it’s easy for teen drivers to overlook any dangers of drinking or driving, especially as alcohol is illegal for anyone under 21, which is why teens may not always feel like they know about the dangers, but they should also consider the impact of alcohol on their reaction time. And while certain states will allow you to have a drink and get behind the wheel, the reality is that so many of us have impaired reactions, no matter how small the drink is! This is why we have to get into the conversation about if they want to be the designated driver that offers lifts to their friends or if they want to enjoy a gathering in a bar or a party like everyone else.
Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with them having fun with their friends, but the problem is that having access to a car brings a lot more freedom! One of the biggest reasons people get involved in car accidents is because of consuming alcohol. It’s a good idea to never have any alcohol, even if under the legal limit. Everybody reacts to alcohol differently and if your child is drinking alcohol under the age of 21, it is against the law! The fact is that it is something that is commonly done, but this is why it’s even more important for you to reinforce the importance of not ever drinking before getting behind the wheel! It’s worth making sure you have good medical insurance, just in case anything were to happen. That way you have peace of mind that you’re protected no matter what.
Teaching Them About Distractions
Distractions are everywhere, and teenage drivers need to concentrate more on the roads than anything because everything is brand new. As adults, we can all think that we’ve got to a certain stage where we just get an understanding of the roads we drive on. But our children need to understand how to avoid distractions when they are behind the wheel.
Of course, one of the biggest distractions ever is the smartphone. If they have a text, as tempting as it can be to look at the phone while at traffic lights, the reality is they just need to put it on silent and out of sight. But it’s not just about phones; music can also be distracting, and eating and drinking are going to involve taking their hands off the wheel. As a parent, you need to set some ground rules from the very start about avoiding distractions. This means that your child understands the impacts of taking their eyes off the road.
Providing Advice About Peer Pressure
Driving is not just about the act of driving itself, but about the pressures your child can have because they have just started driving. If they are one of the first people in their friend group to pass their driving test, the friends will likely use some form of peer pressure to get your child to either take them out constantly or carry out risky maneuvers on the roads, such as racing. This is going to put everybody’s safety at risk and is the last thing that anybody wants.
You may want to set a ground rule that for the first few months of your child driving that they don’t have anybody else in the car with them until they become confident on the road. It’s also a good idea to speak to them about peer pressure. And not just this, but how they react as an individual to stress.
Understanding Stress Behind the Wheel
Stress is something that we all have a certain predilection towards. Some people handle it ok and some do not. But regardless of how long you’ve been driving, it can be very stressful when you are behind the wheel. And when there’s a multitude of factors such as traffic or somebody right up your butt trying to get you to speed up, there’s a lot at stake. Additionally, road rage is something that you may want to speak to your child about because this can also increase the risk of having an accident. Either way, keeping calm behind the wheel is so important. There are things that you may want to share with your child to ensure that they stay relaxed behind the wheel including:
- Planning the journey in advance.
- Finding alternate routes when there’s traffic.
- Letting people overtake if somebody is tailgating you.
- Learning how to stay cool and calm in the face of any stressful situation, for example, deep breathing.
Practice Makes Perfect!
In those first few months after your child has passed their driving test, they will probably want to be out on the road a lot. And this is not necessarily a bad thing, it all depends on the situation. For example, if they just want to go out and get used to the road, they have the opportunity to do so. But if they are automatically looking for opportunities to go driving all night with friends, this may warrant a talk based on their confidence.
Of course, you can’t stop them from going out, but you can help them to understand if they need a bit more practice, either by themselves or with you in the family car. They may not want to spend time with you while they are driving, in case you are too critical, which is absolutely fine. But as the first year is so important, when your child begins to increase their confidence in their skills, but also relax into driving, giving them a variety of lessons means you can help them to feel more at ease, which is what we all want for our child, surely?