Learning how to drive a car is a rite of passage. It becomes the first big step of independence for any teen- a time when they can leave the nest without any heavy supervision. This is one of the biggest accomplishments of a highschooler’s life.

This is also one of the most terrifying times of a parent’s life. Your spacey and impulsive teenager is now legal to get behind the wheel of a car. Yikes.

Your teen does not have to be hell behind wheels. If you teach your teen to drive right, you will save yourself a whole lot of headache and time wasted worrying. Here are some tips on how to teach your teen to drive a car.

1. Driver’s education.

Driver’s ed is the first step to helping your teen learn how to drive. You have a couple different options for driver’s ed. Most public schools will offer a driver’s ed course during the school year and one during the summer. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Summer courses are accelerated and can be completed in a matter of weeks. It is ideal for those with summer birthdays and for those who do not want to waste a class period during the school year. This option might cost a bit more and that accelerated pace may not be ideal for all learners. The driver’s ed period during the school year slows down the process. To fill up the time, more cautionary videos (those with crash stories and photos) are shown, or so I hear. This might be ideal if you have a roadrunner on your hands.

2. Patient teacher.

In addition to classroom driver’s ed, your teen will need to get hands on experience in order to secure a license. The requirements are different in each state, but it generally requires a certain amount of daytime and nighttime hours to be driven with a supervising driver. This driver shapes the new driver significantly. This person must be unafraid (driving with a new driver can be terrifying), not overbearing and patient. New drivers are often self conscious and scared about having control of a huge hunk of metal. A supervisor who is part cheerleader and part teacher is ideal. And backseat driving is a no-no. New drivers have enough on their minds. If this isn’t you, find someone who exudes these qualities. For my younger sisters, this person was me.

3. Teach by example.

Once your teen learns all about driving (or at least what they think they know about driving) your driving skills will be on display. Every rolling stop or unsafe lane change will be noticed- and commented on- by your teen. While this may be annoying, think of it as a wake up call to clean up your driving. If you are a speed demon, what makes you think your teen won’t be? Follow traffic laws and hope to lead by example. If you don’t, your teen certainly won’t either.

Good luck with your new driver! Safe driving.

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