As a parent the desire to protect your child is eternal. No matter how old they get, your default position will always be to forgo your own safety in favour of theirs. Unfortunately, once your child gets to that magical age where the government says they can drive, there won’t be a lot you can do to protect them once they’re out on the road.
Similar to most things in life, once your child flies the nest and isn’t within arm’s reach the best you can hope for is that you taught them enough that they can look after themselves. This approach is one you’ll have to adopt when you close the door on your teenager’s first car watch them drive off into the sunset.
Although you’ll probably see your roving offspring every time they need some money for petrol, the chance are you won’t be with them every time they set off for a road trip. So, with this in mind, what values should you instil in them before they get behind the wheel?
Do it Legally
By far the most important thing both you and your teenager need to do before they start to drive is getting the necessary knowledge required to pass both the theory and practical tests. Understanding the rules of the road and the theory of driving is an essential part of the process of becoming a safe driver and not a mere formality.
It can be easy for a new driver to overlook the value of a theory test in favour of actually driving a car. Unfortunately, both parts of the equation are necessary, so it pays to emphasise the importance of completing both the theory and practical tests to the best of your child’s abilities.
Only once they’ve met the government’s standards should they consider any of our other safety suggestions.
It may seem like an obvious point to make, but it’s often difficult to think clearly when you’re surrounded by distractions (and filled with adrenaline). New drivers venturing out on their own for the first time will be a mixture of emotions. From nerves and excitement, to a desire to impress their friends, newbies on the road will have a lot going on inside their heads.
Because of this it’s important to stress the importance of taking a moment to collect their thoughts and think clearly when they’re behind the wheel. The UK government has been pushing the slogan “THINK!” for a number of years and, as obvious as it may seem, it’s something that deserves proper consideration.
You’re Not as Good as You Think
One of the traps young drivers often fall into is thinking they’re better than they are. The term “boy racer” may be somewhat prejudice, but there is a strong correlation between dangerous driving and young men. Unfortunately, one of the main causes behind these accidents is drivers overestimating their abilities.
Just because you’ve passed your test, it doesn’t make you Lewis Hamilton. In fact, even after years of experience, the gap between a driver’s skills and their perception of said skills is huge. Don’t allow your teenager to fall into this trap.
Talking on a mobile phone, putting the pedal to the metal and redlining their car and generally messing about behind the wheel is a recipe for disaster. Although you can’t control how your child reactions when they’re on the road, you can show them the value of safe driving.
Government campaigns and roadside warnings are all well and good, but a parent’s word often resonates more acutely with a teenager. Therefore, if you want to continue protecting your child long after they’ve driven away from the nest, make sure you give them a solid grounding in the fundamentals of safe driving.
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