Teaching Your Teen to Drive

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More Dos and Don'ts

DON'T be too proud to turn the teaching over to someone else -- a professional instructor, an adult friend, or another family member. It's not uncommon to find yourself having mini-meltdowns during every lesson or lashing out at your teen for every mistake. But it's not fair to let your stress or impatience turn the learning process into a tear-streaked affair. Do both you and your child a favor: Admit that someone else might be better suited, temperamentally, for the job (legally, whomever your teen drives with must have had his license for at least a year, but you'll want to pick someone with more experience than that). Be sure your teen knows that she is not to blame for your anxiety.

DO set aside time to teach your teen how to change a tire, test the oil and coolant levels, jumpstart a battery, and handle other emergency roadside situations.

DON'T take up your teen's driving time lecturing her on the intricacies of car engines, carburetors, wheel axles, and other mechanics. Her first priority is learning how to work the car, not learning how the car works. Any extra information will only overwhelm her (unless, of course, she's curious about the mechanics of cars, in which case she will seek out the information from you and others).

DO give your teen every possible opportunity to practice driving. Shopping trips, errands, and after-school activities are ideal times to sharpen "around the town" driving skills. Although young people have naturally quick reflexes, they haven't developed good driving judgment; only time behind the wheel can give them that.

DON'T let your teen take the driving test too soon. Many states require only six hours of supervised driving time, but most professional driving instructors suggest at least 40, and in all kinds of conditions -- nighttime, rain, sleet, snow, rush hour, high-speed, etc. Once your teen has her license in hand, she may assume (wrongly) that she's got this driving thing down, and she'll be less receptive to instruction. So, the more you teach her beforehand, the better.

DO set a good example when you yourself are driving. Stick to the speed limit, use your turn signal, wear your seat belt, and show respect to other drivers on the road.

Continued on page 3:  Safety: Dos and Don'ts


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