When you first start driving, it’s an exhilarating – and scary – experience. Sitting behind the wheel, you’re no longer just a passenger. You’re the one in control now – or at least you hope you are. What if you make a mistake? What if you ding up the family car? It’s all so new, and there’s so much to learn. But don’t forget the free source of driving experience now sitting in your old spot in the passenger seat – your Dad or Mom.
You can tap into your folk’s knowledge, but you have to actually communicate with them. Taking this step, however, is a big leap towards taking responsibility, a crucial element in learning to be a safe, competent driver – and an independent adult.
- Make no mistake – your parents are nervous about you learning to drive. Why? Shouldn’t they be excited and happy for you? Well, sure. And they are. But they love you, and your safety is paramount. As veteran drivers, they’ve been there, done that, and suffered the consequences. They know that the stakes are high. They’ve seen what can happen to inexperienced drivers. Thus the nervousness. Understanding this will help you come to terms with some of their reactions to what you do behind the wheel.
- Your parents know a lot about driving (gleaned from the school of hard knocks), but they understand that professionals know a lot more than they do. They may be willing to pay for additional driver training from a professional driving school. Ask them and see.
- Listen to your parents when they’re riding with you, and mine that vein of accumulated experience. It’s a valuable resource. Ask them to put you into varied situations during your escapades behind the wheel. Find out what they would do in similar circumstances. Don’t hesitate, however, to let your folks know when their observations and critiques are making you nervous. The time to review a driving session is at home – after the car has been safely put away.
- Once at home, take the time to review your driving session. Go over the experience, touching on both your concerns and your parent’s. Discuss anything that left you feeling confused, nervous or uneasy, or that you were unsure about. Then work on those points the next time you go out, until you’re comfortable with them.
- Finally, as a reward for good work and lessons learned, ask your folks if they would consider sending you to a class at the Panoz Racing School, or a similar school. Billed as the Audi Driving Experience, Panoz teaches teens defensive driving skills at area race tracks, combining short classroom sessions with a lot of time on the track and skid pan. It’s a great learning experience, plus a lot of fun. You might even talk Dad or Mom into taking the course with you.
Your parents may not be “with it”, but between them they’ve accumulated a lot of wheel time. Listen to their advice, follow in their tire tracks, and learn from their experiences. You’ll avoid making the same stupid mistakes they made when they first learned to drive. This will help keep you safe. And that, believe it or not, is all they want.
Understanding Your Parents Role
Your parent’s role in your driving education doesn’t stop when you receive your driver’s license. You’ll find that you need their guidance continually after that. You’ll still need time to practice driving with your mom or dad, or your legal guardian.
There are times when you’ll need driving advice to strengthen your safe driving habits, and it’s up to them to monitor in which areas you’ll need improvement. No one else will do this for you, so it’s very important that you maintain open communication with your parents or guardian when it comes to your driving difficulties.
If you can, make sure to schedule driving practice sessions with them until you are entirely confident that you can take the road on your own.
In addition, many states have implemented graduated licensing laws for teen drivers. So, you’ll probably find that you don’t have a choice but to drive with an adult by your side during the intermediate phase. So why not have your parents or guardian be that adult instead of someone else?
Another advantage of having your parents sit with you is that they will be able to share at least the basic car maintenance measures without putting you in an awkward situation. You can freely ask them when is the right time to get the oil changed.
With them, you don’t need to be shy when you don’t know how to adjust tire pressure or even change a tire. Plus, they can willingly enlighten you, without making you feel embarrassed when you read warning lights or indicators incorrectly. These may be pretty simple, but most teens get into trouble because they are too shy to ask about these simple things.
Well, of course, not every family has an ideal relationship with each other. In cases wherein you do not trust your parents enough, at least find someone who acts more like a parent to you than a friend. Friends are cool, but the heart of a parent will always put your safety on top of his or her priorities when teaching you about driving.