The roads of Britain are a dangerous place. When your child is old enough to get a provisional licence and get behind the wheel of a car it can be scary for parents.
Fortunately, mitigating some of the danger is as easy as educating your teenager on the correct mentality to have while driving and ensuring their skills are up to scratch.
Jumping in the passenger seat alongside your child can be a rewarding experience and it will help them become a better, safer driver in the long run.
We’ve put together some handy tips to ensure that both you and your youngster get the most out of driving together, build on what they learn in driving lessons and ultimately pass their test with flying colours.
Who can ride with a learner driver?
Chances are that if you’re a parent, you’re probably qualified to sit with a learner. But it’s important to know who can and can’t act as a supervisor in case friends or relatives offer to help out.
A learner must share the car with someone over the age of 21 who has held a full Great Britain, Northern Ireland or European Community/European Economic Area driving licence for a minimum of three years.
Also, remember that the supervisor is legally in charge of the car. In the past, those riding with a learner have been charged after a crash.
Be a good teacher
Before you jump in the car for a drive with a learner, it’s important to think about how you are going to approach the situation. You know your kid better than most people, so think about how they might react to your inputs.
Remember yourself at their age and how you’d react to your parents telling you what to do. It’s likely that gentle encouragement will be better received than asserting that they’re doing something wrong.
They’ll also likely mirror your state of mind. If you go into the car stressed and nervous, expecting an argument, then that’s what’ll happen. Instead, make sure you’re calm before you even think about going out on to the road – and make sure you stay that way, no matter what happens!
Make sure your own skills are up to date
Chances are that you took your test many years ago when cars were less technical, roads were quieter and tests consisted of different rules to follow.
The appropriate technique in any given situation may have changed, you may remember it wrong, or you might have simply picked up bad habits that you really don’t want to push on to your child.
There are two easy ways to ensure you’re both on the same page. First of all, get online, read up on the basics and take some theory tests.
Secondly, just listen. If you tell your teenager to do something and they tell you that’s the opposite of what their instructor has said, accept and remember that. The last thing you want is for them to have two conflicting ideas when they’re trying to learn.
Plan an appropriate route
When you’ve been driving for years, it becomes second nature and you forget that new drivers have to think every situation through. They can’t call on their experience to know how to react in any given situation.
When thinking about where to go driving, plan quieter routes that don’t have complicated junctions. By doing this, you’re giving the driver time to think without any pressure.
As they approach test time, you can start to up the ante as they can’t control traffic conditions on the big day. Preparedness is key, just don’t try to do too much too quickly.
Ensure their technical skills are good
It can be easy to switch off to the finer points of your teenager’s driving, especially once they become more competent and you relax. It’s important that you keep an eye on their technical skills throughout the learning process to ensure nothing is forgotten and no bad habits form.
The way they hold the wheel, how often they look in the mirror and how they handle junctions might seem okay to you, but you need to put yourself in the mind of the assessor. Be strict without being too pushy to make sure there are no silly test fails!
Teach the correct mentality
Young people tend to have a carefree, arrogant attitude to life. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but on the road it can be lethal.
Ensuring that your child has the correct mentality when they get into the car will help keep everyone safe and will ensure they perform better.
The best way to do this is by staying calm yourself and constantly making sure they’re aware of what’s going on around them. Being aware and considerate of other drivers will help minimise the likelihood that they’ll find themselves in a tricky situation.
So there you have it. Follow these tips and your teenager will be in the best possible position to pass their driving test – and hopefully you’ll avoid too many arguments along the way! Comment below if you have any other tips that learners and their parents might find helpful…