Close your eyes and try to remember the scariest movie you have ever seen. Remember that feeling of panic and sheer terror? The slight wave of nausea and heart palpitations? And realizing that there is a good chance you will never sleep again?
Great. Now here’s the bad news.
That was just the warm-up for the moment you see your teenager stride confidently up to you with their new driver’s license in one hand and a set of car keys in the other hand. Grinning like they just won the lottery.
There are few things more terrifying than sending your teen off onto the open road all by himself.
It’s not that you don’t believe your kid is a capable driver (you should know, after signing off that you spent approximately 4.5 thousand hours with him behind the wheel).
And it’s not the fear of the mischief that might occur with multiple teenagers squashed into the backseat of a tiny, old car (and hopefully not hanging off the roof).
Learning to drive may be a necessary and exciting part of growing up, but, as a parent, you’ll never stop worrying about your teenager behind the wheel.
Not only is your child still honing his driving skills, but the road is unfortunately filled with distracted drivers, reckless, and just plain bad at driving.
The best way to help your teen stay safe is to keep the lines of communication open.
Sit down with him and be honest about your concerns, and make sure that he feels comfortable asking questions and sharing any worries of his own.
Sharing your own driving mistakes with him may put him at ease. Help him realize you’re not pretending to be a perfect driver, but rather a driver with more experience under your proverbial belt.
Teen drivers can be overconfident about their skills, and capabilities of their car (“what do you mean, a Volvo can’t go zero to 80 in twenty seconds flat?”).
Common Errors Teen Drivers Make
Make sure he knows about the most common errors that new drivers tend to make.
- Under-steering and over-steering are common mistakes among new drivers, so show him how to quickly and correctly make quick turns and lane changes.
- Teens (and many adults) tend to take tire pressure for granted. Have your your teenager check the pressure on his tires at least once a month so he’s not cruising around on tires that are too big or too flat.
- Situational awareness is an extremely important part of being a good driver. Too many drivers “zone out” behind the wheel and aren’t aware of what is happening—or about to happen—around them. Encourage him to pay attention to what’s occurring on all sides, at all times.
- Finally, talk about responsible driving. Many teens drive under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Teenagers are also more likely to text and talk behind the wheel on a regular basis.
These behaviors are major safety issues that could lead to dire consequences.
Hold your teen accountable for his actions in the car. Be willing to take away the keys if he violates one of those safety issues.
And set a good example behind the wheel by putting away your own phone and concentrating fully on the task at hand.
It may be a scary transition, but with a lot of love and support from his awesome parents, your teen will be just fine.