Driver Education: 7 Things You Need to Teach Your Teens About Driving

Posted by: Dan on 20/04/2016

Category: Community

Driver’s Education: 7 Things You Need to Teach Your Teens About Driving


It’s not news that young drivers are at a higher risk of accident than other age groups in Australia, and around the world.

A  2015 report from the New Zealand Ministry of Transport found that while female drivers are at a slightly lower risk, young male drivers ages 15-19 were eight times more likely to crash compared to the safest age group  (males 55-59). These statistics have held steady for some time now.

If you’ve got teenagers in your family who are starting to drive, alongside the written rules of the road, there are some other unwritten tips your young drivers should know. Here are 7 things you need to teach your teens about driving.

1. Don’t drive when tired

Upon graduating high school (and often a little before that), many teens begin a life that is a busy juggling act of school, part-time work, and a social life that can extend well beyond Friday and Saturday nights on the town.

This in and of itself is not a bad thing, but it can be a dangerous combination when mixed with tiredness, especially for a newly-licensed driver. So, be sure to encourage your kids to drive, but when they are feeling really tired or didn’t get much sleep the night before, make sure they know they should hop a bus or take a taxi instead.

2. Don’t drink and drive (or have passengers in your car who do)

Though laws vary amongst Australian states and territories, new drivers commonly face licence restrictions, one of which is a restriction that they must not drive with alcohol in their system.

While your teen may know and adhere to this, it's also important that they are careful giving lifts to others who have been drinking. Driving a friend home who has had a bit too much to drink is one thing, but a carload full of loud friends who’ve been drinking increases the odds of attracting attention from the police, or getting into an accident. So be sure your teens pick their passengers carefully.

3. Basic car maintenance

Unless your teenage son or daughter is a certifiable gearhead, reattaching a broken pipe or restoring power to the car’s electrical components may be a tall order. But teaching your teens basic car maintenance such as changing a tyre, fixing a broken headlight, and changing vital fluids such as oil and coolant is a wise idea.

In addition to ensuring your kids know their way around the car (and saving some money on mechanic fees), learning basic car maintenance encourages responsibility for the overall well-being and condition of the vehicle.

4. How to drive in difficult conditions

This may sound counterintuitive at first, but in reality, one of the mistakes made when teaching teens to drive is to focus only on having them practise in optimal driving conditions, avoiding rain, storms, and high speeds.

While this is certainly wise to do early on in driving lessons, it's a big mistake to keep teens away from difficult conditions long-term. Be sure they know how to drive comfortably in difficult conditions and on the freeway, because once they’re licensed, they’ll certainly encounter a variety of conditions on their own. It's important that they know how to drive in all situations with confidence.

5. Learn how to make the car safe if something goes wrong

In the event of an engine failure or other emergency, it's important you teach your teens how to make the car safe and then call auto assistance. This means that if they’re driving and blow out a tyre or find that the electronics in the car are failing, make sure they know not to panic. Instead, teach them to switch their hazard lights on, and where possible, guide the car slowly to the side of the road or into the emergency lane where they can safely wait for roadside assistance.

Also, teach them to use common sense behaviour, like not standing on the wrong (traffic side) of the car but instead on the footpath when the car is pulled over. This may be something that you automatically know to do as an experienced driver, but it can be hard for your teen to remember when they’re upset over a breakdown. Be sure to practise with them, and teach your teens how to handle such situations inside the car and out when you first head out on the road together.

6. Learn how to respond to bad drivers and road rage

New drivers have to deal with road rage just like the rest of us. The teenage years can be an emotional time anyway, so it's important that you encourage your teens to always drive calmly and deal with road rage properly.

In the case of bad drivers, there are a number of ways they can seek to properly deal with the situation. But since you can’t anticipate every scenario to run through with them, be sure to emphasise that ABC (Always Be Calm) should always be their first response when dealing with road rage.

7. Enjoy driving

We have so many rules in life, and this is especially so for new teenage drivers. While it's a time of learning and new responsibility, it's important that they don’t drive fearfully. Instead, teach them that driving can be enjoyed while done safely.

So, take your teens on a drive in the mountains or down along the coast and let them savour the new feeling of independence that comes with new responsibilities. Ultimately, the more they drive, the more they’ll increase their experience and skill, so be sure they don’t forget to enjoy it while being safe behind the wheel.

How has your experience been teaching your teens to drive? Did you teach them any special tips of your own? Let us know in the comments below.

Image, Pixabay