Helping your son or daughter get on the road is one of the best things you can do to help them become more independent. Wasim Bux, from car insurance provider iGO4, shares his advice on how you can support your children — and keep calm — while they’re learning to drive.
As parents, it’s natural to worry about your children as they grow up, and it’s especially understandable to be concerned when they get behind the wheel of their first car. But as long as you’re both properly prepared, then it doesn’t have to be an ordeal.
To help you manage the natural anxiety that comes with parenting a learner driver, I’ve shared four tips on how to coach them through it with minimum stress. Just read on to learn what you can do to support your children, including how to keep your cool during practice sessions, and ways to cover the cost of getting a young motorist on the road.
Find a safe place to practice
If you want to give your children the best possible chance of passing their test, then it can help to give your child some some private coaching before they take their test. For most parents, this is the part of the learning process that’s the most stressful (and most likely to cause arguments). But, if you’re properly prepared, then it needn’t be a difficult experience.
It can help to find a practice area that’s out of harm’s way, so find a secluded spot where you can build up your confidence together. An empty car park or a long, remote country road are ideal, as you won’t need to worry about other drivers and you’re free to take all the time you need. Just make sure there’s plenty of visibility, so your child will have plenty of time to react to any approaching vehicles.
Find ways to help them spread the cost
For many families, it’s not just a matter of worrying about what will happen when your son or daughter gets behind the wheel for the first time. Once your child has been awarded their full licence, the insurance premium required to get them on the road is often enough to give any parent a heart attack — especially if you’re the one who’s footing the bill.
If you want to help your children spread the cost, then there are ways to help lower the price of the premium. Telematics insurance policies are currently a very popular way to reduce the cost of insurance, and they can help to encourage sensible driving, too. Young motorists agree to have a ‘black box’ fitted in their vehicles, which records information on their speed, acceleration, braking and usage times, in exchange for a discount on their insurance premium. Plus, the thought that someone is keeping an eye on your child’s driving when you’re not around could give you some peace of mind, too.
Remember the laws around supervised practice
Supervising a learner driver is rather different to being a passenger. In the eyes of the law, the supervisor is in control of the car (even if they aren’t the ones behind the wheel), so you’ll need to stay alert.
Essentially, all the same rules that would normally apply when driving are applicable when you’re supervising a learner, too. That means it’s against the law to text, make calls, or go over the drink-drive limit when teaching someone to drive. Breaking these laws could mean you risk fines, disqualification or even criminal charges, so make a concerted effort to know the laws and stick to them. After all, you want to set a good example for your son or daughter. You can find out more about your legal duties during practice sessions on Ask the Police.
Even if you passed with flying colours thirty years ago, the standard of driving required by modern driving tests will have changed a great deal during the intervening years, so it’s likely you’ll need to brush up what’s required as part of the test, too. You can find out more about what happens during the practical test in this guide from Safe Driving For Life.
Keep your cool
While this may be easier said than done, having patience is a must when helping someone learn to drive. While supervising a learner can be a stressful experience, losing your temper or getting panicky will only make your son or daughter more anxious, which could make them more likely to make a mistake.
Remember that learning to drive is stressful for both parties, so you’ll need to be willing to forgive honest mistakes and do your best to keep your cool during practice sessions. If you think you’re getting a bit overwhelmed, ask your child to pull over for a short break. Then, calmly discuss what you think they could have done differently.
If the thought of your son or daughter behind the wheel of a car is keeping you up at night, then this advice should help. As long as you’re properly prepared, then you’ll soon realise that there’s nothing to worry about.