It's an anxious time when your child is no longer a child, and wants to get behind the wheel for themselves. As much of a relief as it is, knowing that soon you won’t have to give them lifts here, there and everywhere, you’re still bound to be worried and feel like you have a million questions running through your head. To help combat the nerves, we’ve got a handy list of tips and advice, to help you when your teenager inevitably says ‘I want to learn how to drive’.
Keeping them safe behind the wheel
First things first - Help your teenager to understand that whilst driving is great and gives them so much freedom, it is probably the riskiest thing they will do. Luckily, there are a lot of different things to help keep your child as safe as possible when they’re out on the road. We all need to learn at some time, so giving them a helping hand every step of the way will help calm their nerves and yours.
From their first lesson to their first independent drive after passing – there are many steps that you and your child can take to keep the risks down. A better education of the rules of the road is key, so try and supply them with books, DVDs and apps that will help them learn the Highway Code! It may not be the most exciting thing they’ve ever studied, but remind them that driving is not all about the practical, and a lot about the theory!
Eyesight - It may seem obvious, but knowing your child has sufficient enough sight to be able to drive is important.
Medication - Is your child on any medication that can affect driving ability? It may not be something you’ve thought to look at before, however, if they’re wanting to learn, you need to know!
General health and wellbeing - Are they happy, and eager to learn for the right reasons? Make sure they’re not just wanting to start driving because their friends are – but that they’re doing it for themselves.
The car - Checking the safety of the car is more for if your child decides they want private practice - either in your car through Named Young Driver Insurance, or on their own car if they have one. Is it up to scratch, and in a good working order?
Their knowledge - It can be a good idea to help your child learn as much about driving as possible before they even look to start lessons! There is no such thing as too much knowledge.
Knowing the risks - Whilst it isn’t the first thing your child will think about, knowing the risks of driving is important. We don’t want to scare them into never getting in a car again (that would be a little extreme) but make sure they know the serious implications of not driving safely.
Choosing an instructor - Choosing the right driving instructor for your child is a big decision in the learning to drive process. See who's around and ask friends and family for recommendations. Remember - if your child doesn't get along with their first instructor, it's not the end of the world. Pick up, and start again. The perfect one is out there for everyone who is learning.
Understanding the costs
It may come as a shock that driving lessons have significantly increased in price since when you were learning. Everyone wants to get out on the road, so it may cost a pretty penny to get your teenager there. Luckily, there are some things you can do to cut the cost of learning to drive. From private practice when they're learning, to keeping costs low once they've passed - it doesn't need to cost as much as you think! (Although with driving lessons now costing an average of £25-£30 an hour, it's still a big jump from when many parents learned to drive!
Checking they are ready
The most important thing you need to establish is whether or not your teenager is ready to learn to drive. Make sure they know the realities of being out on the road, from the risk to the cost and everything in between! It's a huge commitment and is possibly the first major life choice they'll make, so allow them to speak openly to you, and you to the same to them - hopefully open communication will ease both of your nerves and anxieties.