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.