Is my teenager ready to drive?
As the parent of a child approaching the age at which they can learn to drive, there is certain to be one question that keeps coming to mind: “Is my teenager ready to drive?”
It’s a good question. Learning to drive is a big step and not one to be taken lightly. Driving requires responsibility, maturity and a willingness to obey driving rules. Yet, driving brings with it independence and a degree of freedom for your child. And it might even put an end to the days of mom or dad’s taxi!
Ask yourself the following questions to help determine whether your teen is or is not ready to drive.
Is my teen old enough to learn to drive?
The age at which your child can legally begin drivers education varies between states. You can check state requirements for learning to drive by checking the FAQ page for the state-specific online driver education course from DriversEd.com, and look for a question like “How do I earn my drivers license?”.
In addition to the state requirements, you might want to think about how your teen feels about learning to drive. Has he or she demonstrated an interest in driving for some time, and shown a willingness to learn from your actions? We know that children observe their parents as they drive and subconsciously learn from their behavior. But, if you have actively engaged with your child while driving and explained your actions to them, you may find they have already learnt a lot about safe driving and feel more prepared for learning to drive. (You can read more about this in our blog article: What’s the Best Age to Start Teaching My Teen to Drive.)
Is my teen mature enough to learn to drive?
Driving safely involves much more than passing a road test. It requires all drivers to follow rules, assess risks, make safe decisions and respond accordingly. Of course, a professional driving instructor will help your teen develop safe driving skills during in-car driving lessons, but it can be useful to consider your teen’s level of maturity before learning to drive. As their parent, you’re in a great position to assess your teen’s maturity. Think about the level of maturity displayed by your teen in other areas of life, such as attitude to schoolwork, choice of friends, ability to follow rules, etc.
Is my teen willing to take advice about learning to drive?
Consider your teen’s relationship with teachers and other adults. This can be a good indication of how they will respond to a professional driving instructor. At DriversEd.com, all our driving instructors have years of experience of teaching teenagers how to drive and are highly skilled at communicating effectively with teens. Even so, the more your teen is willing to take advice, the more an instructor can teach them during driving lessons about becoming a safe, SMART, confident driver.
Is my teen ready to concentrate on the road?
Roads are busy. Not only with drivers, but with all kinds of other road users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists and buses, as well as other teenagers taking driving lessons! Driving safely requires concentration and focus at all times. Think about whether your teen would be able to resist using his/her cell phone while driving, to avoid getting into deep conversations with passengers and to refrain from activities such as eating and drinking while at the wheel.
Is my teen able to remain alert for driving?
The driving environment is one that changes frequently. And it can change in an instant. Being alert helps drivers identify potential hazards and react appropriately as quickly and as safely as possible. If your teen stays up all night playing computer games or wanders around the house yawning, it might be a good idea to encourage your teen to establish a regular sleep routine before learning to drive.
Does my teen have time for learning to drive?
Learning to become a safe, SMART driver doesn’t happen overnight, so it’s worth thinking about what else your teen has going on in their life before they learn to drive. School, work, volunteering, social commitments: these all take up time and adding something else into the mix can be a pressure for some teens. On the flip side, learning to drive can ultimately enable your teen to better juggle such commitments: once they are on the road, they can drive themselves to work, school and wherever else they need to go without relying on other people for lifts or on public transport. When considering driving schools, you might want to consider one that offers flexible online drivers education, so your teen can learn to drive on any device, at a pace that suits them.
Are you ready to help your teen with learning to drive?
State requirements vary, but most require a combination of one or more of the following: online drivers education, in-car driving lessons and a minimum period of parent supervised driving practice.
The parent-supervised driving practice stage forms an important part of learning to drive. It helps your teen gain driving experience in all kinds of driving conditions, and the more you do, the best shot your teenager has of becoming a safe, SMART driver for life.
You can help make the parent-supervised practice period more effective by refreshing your own knowledge, thinking of ways to help your teen relax while learning to drive and using the three-step teaching technique: Explain, Demonstrate, Practice/Coach. For a more detailed guide of what to do during the parent-supervised practice stage of learning to drive, check out a few of our resources, and keep your eyes on this space for more:
- Lead by example: A parent’s guide to modeling good driving behavior
- Let’s Go Practice Driving—in a Parking Lot!
- What’s on the Road Test?
In addition to supervised practice, your teen will also need your support while taking in-car driving lessons and/or online drivers education. While they certainly won’t want an interrogation after each one of their driving lessons, your teen will benefit greatly from your emotional support, your interest in how they are doing and your willingness to help them find out the answers to any questions they might have about learning to drive.
We’re here to help both you and your teen
At DriversEd.com, we know learning to drive is a major milestone for both you and your teenager. That’s why we provide 24/7 customer support for both you and your teen, valuable driving resources, unlimited free practice tests and useful articles for both parents and teens about learning to drive and all kinds of safe driving topics.
And, when your teen starts in-car driving lessons with us, our professional driving instructors will make the effort to have a chat with you, the parent, before and after every one of your teen’s driving lessons. Our driving instructors will also provide online feedback for each driving lesson so you can keep track of your teen’s progress throughout their journey.
We hope this article has helped you answer your question: “Is my teen ready to drive?” If you feel the answer is yes, you might like to learn more about online drivers education for teens or in-car teen driving lessons.