Teaching your child to drive

Posted by: Cal on 23/07/2013

Category: General

Teaching your child to drive can be both an exhilarating and terrifying experience. While you will likely feel thrilled that the days of picking up and dropping your child off at seemingly endless social events are soon to end, it's also frightening to think of your precious little one taking to the roads by themselves.

The process of teaching them, too, can be stressful. It's likely you'll have some hair-raising experiences as your kid learns to navigate uncontrolled intersections, roundabouts and, if they're in the dreaded manual, gear changes, hill starts, and an endless series of bunny hops.

Despite the thrills and spills along the way, remember to remain patient and think back to your own teenage driving years and the mistakes you made while you were learning.

It's a good idea to start off in a safe and quiet environment, such as a quiet car park or cul-de-sac road. Here you can teach your child the basics, and practice skills like turning, reversing, changing gears and parking.

Once your child has mastered the car park you can move on to some quiet roads. It's on these low-traffic roads that you can begin to put the give way rules into practice and your child can get to know what it's like to drive on real roads.

Once this has been mastered then it's time to head for the busier roads as well as the highways and motorways, and time to attempt more complex manoeuvres such as parallel parking. There's no rush though, and remember everybody learns at a different pace and will become ready for more advanced stages of driving at different times.

While it's important to teach your child the techniques and skills associated with driving, it's also important to teach them about car maintenance, performance and safety.

You don't want you son or daughter ending up stranded on a road with burst car tyres, travelling without a spare or no knowledge of how to change them.

Here are some of the basics your child should know about.

- Make sure you always have the following list of things in your car. Recommended items include a map, a spare tyre, the vehicle's manual, some basic tyre changing tools and some water. If you want to be more prepared then you could also include a torch, GPS system, snacks, a radio and anything else you think could come in handy.

- Make sure your child knows what kind of fuel your car takes.

- Teach your child what to check up on under the hood, such as water and oil levels.

- Tyre maintenance is important. Create a checklist of what to look out for, including low pressure or tread, punctures and any damage from kerbing or hitting objects.

- Make sure they know to watch out for any cracks in the windshield or windows.

- Teach your kid to go easy on the equipment. Don't rev the car too much or too quickly, and don't do any crazy things like wheelies or drifts that will damage your car and are highly dangerous.

It will take time for all of these rules and recommendations to sink in, so don't be surprised if your kid makes a few mistakes along the way. A few bumps and scrapes are common for first-time drivers, and many first cars carry the scars of these events. Remember that insurance can be a good idea for this reason.

Lead by example and be a great teacher, and your kid will be a whiz on the roads in no time.