Fasten Your Seatbelts! How to Teach Your Teen to Drive Safely and Responsibly
Sat, April 10, 2021

Fasten Your Seatbelts! How to Teach Your Teen to Drive Safely and Responsibly


For most teenagers, they are excited to learn to drive— but for some parents, it makes them nervous considering there are plenty of reports about crashes and accidents that involve young drivers.

Still, learning to drive is a key milestone for youths, giving them more freedom and independence, according to Lucy Cleeve of the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria, a motoring club and mutual organization. Planning ahead and helping your child gain driving experience can enable them to become a safe and responsible driver.

Survey Reveals Parents’ Answers On Driving-Related Questions, a website that provides insurance quotes, surveyed 500 parents of teen drivers to find out whether they enforce graduated Driver Licensing laws (GDL), which GDL they enforce, and other related questions, reported Les Masterson. 23% of parents said they never enforce GDL compared to 2019’s 14% and 2018’s 5%. Only 63% of parents answered “yes, always” (versus 69% and 78%) while 13% said sometimes (versus 17% in 2019 and 2018).

68% of moms enforced restrictions (versus 73% in 2019) along with 58% of dads (versus 64%). Dads were also more than moms (27% versus 20%) to likely never impose restrictions. In 2019, the figures were 15% of moms and 13% of dads. When asked why parents would not always enforce laws meant to protect their kids, they said they don’t know about GDL (48%) or not necessary (13%).

Further, 7% believed that GDL is unfair. 12% of parents said their teen does not always listen to them, while 11% said their teen’s friends always need transporting, making it hard for parents to say no. 8% of parents said they pick and choose which laws their child will follow. 52% of moms who don’t always enforce GDL said they don’t know about their state GDL compared to 43% of dads. In 2019, the figures were 52% of moms and 28% of dads.

When asked which laws they sometimes or never enforce for their teen driver, the parents answered time restrictions (35%), use of cell phone ban (25%), passenger restriction (22%), hours of supervised practice (21%), and use of other electronic devices ban (15%). Dads were more likely than moms to not enforce time restrictions (41% versus 29%). When asked about their teen’s worst driving habits, the parents cited texting while driving (43%), parallel parking (32%), speeding (26%), not wearing a seatbelt (23%), and distracted driving (20%).



However, the survey also revealed that parents do not model good driving behavior as 42% occasionally text while driving with their teen. 4% said they frequently text while driving, despite knowing they should not, suggesting that it is the parents’ bad habit. 10% said sometimes, so long as they feel they can text while driving safely. Only 58% of parents never text while driving with their teen and 285 answered hardly ever or just a few times when they feel it is necessary.

When parents were asked about their perception of driverless cars and teen drivers, 37% would not let their teen ride a driverless car because it is not safe. Likewise, 24% said they would not allow their teen to ride one because their child could not take over if needed due to a lack of experience. 20% said they would allow their teen in a driverless car, adding it is better than a teen driver. 19% would allow their child, but they would be worried if their teen could take over if needed.

Getting Started On Teaching Your Child to Drive

Teens may express their interest to learn to drive at different ages, which can be as soon as they meet the minimum age requirement. Or they might not be mature enough and be responsible. If you think your teen is ready, talk and wait for them to approach you. Don’t badger them about it as an overly anxious teen driver can be dangerous.

Plan ahead! Think about how your child will learn—will you be the one who will teach them, hire a driving instructor, or both? “Some parents are good teachers, and their kids just need a few lessons to put the finishing touches on their skills before their final test,” noted RACV driving instructor Jeremy Azzopardi. Brief your teen about using the family car, detailing rules such as whether they can use it to drive with friends or drive at night. Remind your teen that learning to drive is only the beginning of a lifelong learning process.



On the Road

Inform your teen about the parts of the vehicle and its basic operations, which includes shifting gears and making safe turns, stated Wayne Parker of Verywell Family, a parenting website. Instruct your teen how to do parallel parking, angle parking, and 90-degree parking. They should also be familiar with making lane changes, dealing with intersections, making U-turns, and more.

That’s a lot to cover! Hence, it is recommended to start slow and go to an empty parking space to practice starting, stopping, and turning a car. Once your teen is comfortable enough, consider letting your teen practice in a quiet residential area with fewer cars. Then, move on to streets with heavier traffic if you think your teen is ready.

It is recommended to say “We will be turning left in the next block” than “right” when giving directions. Say “correctly” when your child does something well. As your child hones their driving skills, it is recommended to let them practice on good road conditions and to focus on daytime driving.



Modeling Safe and Responsible Driving

Your teen will not only learn to drive from you, but also how they learn to drive. You can model good driving behavior by following the speed limit, obeying road signs, being considerate to pedestrians and other road users. Remind your teen that laws should be understood and followed consistently, not just additional knowledge when taking the driver’s test.

Warn them about texting or using their phone while driving regardless of if the laws in your area are strict. “Get them to think about worst-case scenarios. It’s important to understand that if you make a bad decision you could end someone’s life,” advised AzzopardiAzzopadi. Another way of instilling responsible driving in your child is to let them shoulder the costs of filling the tank, paying a share of the car insurance, and more. Teach them how to report an accident or assist others who are involved in an accident.

Learning to drive is a rite of passage for many teens. Driving lets them explore new places or become more independent. However, parents should help their children become responsible drivers by obeying traffic laws and being considerate to other road users.