One of the biggest challenges parents face is teaching their child how to drive. For teenagers, learning to drive is intimidating. For parents, the thought, “I have to teach my child to drive” is even scarier.
However, the learning process can be easier for you and your child by teaching them at the appropriate age. You can teach your child small driving lessons as young as five years of age and allow them to get behind the wheel with your supervision on your property as young as thirteen or fourteen, which can prepare them for safe driving once they turn fifteen.
Teaching driving lessons at a young age
Every time your child drives it is a teaching moment. Whether it is driving a tricycle at the age of five or a four-wheeler when they are twelve, learning to drive a car can begin well before they receive a permit. While driving anything, teach your child the importance of safety and always remaining focused, regardless of how comfortable or confident they may start to feel.
Parents should also set a good example. Children are very observant, and they pick up on minor details while riding with their parents. You can set a good example for your child by not texting while you drive, always buckling up once you enter into the vehicle and driving an appropriate speed at all times.
Rules for getting behind the wheel without a permit
Teenagers without a permit are not allowed to drive on public roads. However, parents can have their child practice on their own private land without a permit. Of course, this is not applicable to parents who do not own much land, in which case finding a relative or friend with a long driveway may be a way to get your child some practice before they take their permit test.
If you do own land or are able to find a friend or family member with land, then you can have your child practice there before they receive a permit. While you do not want to start too young, having your child get behind a wheel and drive down a safe driveway at the age of thirteen or fourteen can help them when they are old enough to go on public roads.
Permit test and learning the road rules
Children are able to take their permit test at the age of fifteen. Parents can help their child prepare by enrolling them in a preparation course, which in many states is necessary. Also in many states, drivers education can begin as young as fourteen (although they cannot drive on public roads until they receive a permit).
You can also begin teaching your child road rules at the age of thirteen and fourteen (and possibly sooner). This may include describing to them what road signs meanwhile they ride with you, explaining what to do at four-way stops and when turning right at red lights and more. You can also give them practice tests as well, which can help ensure they pass the permit test on the first try.
Driving with your child when they turn 15
Once your child turns fifteen and receives their permit, they can legally drive on the road with the supervision of their parent. By this point, they should be well informed about road rules and relatively comfortable while behind the wheel of the car.
As you teach your child real-world driving experiences, start small and work your way to tougher challenges. For example, consider going to an empty parking lot to learn how to park, then proceed on to quiet backroads before allowing them to go into big cities where driving is more challenging.
Driving test prep
As your child becomes more comfortable driving, you can begin to prepare them for some of the more challenging obstacles they will experience on the driving test. This includes the infamous parallel parking, parking while backing up and other obstacles that many adults still struggle with. Also consider planning the driving test at a time when the roads are quieter, such as right before lunch on a weekday, along with helping your child stay calm on the day of the driving test.
Safe driving at the age of 16
It is still important to help your child learn and improve their driving skills after they get their driving license. Many states have laws restricting the time teenagers can drive and the number of passengers they can have after getting their license. For optimal safety while your child continues to improve their driving skills after they get their license, consider limiting them to close distances, restricting how late they can drive (especially on weekends) and reminding them about safety precautions to put into effect while driving.
Choosing the right vehicle for your child
The vehicle you choose for your child makes a difference. There are often two options for parents, which is to fix up an old car or purchase a new one for their child. Both options can be safe if the right steps are taken.
If you choose to fix up an old car, make sure to optimize all safety features and parts. Be sure to replace damaged, outdated or oxidized headlights and worn-down tires. Also consider giving the windows a good wash and scheduling a tune-up, which should include a wheel alignment, oil change and engine check and tuning. When purchasing a new vehicle, find one that has a high safety rating and is easy for a teenager to drive safely.
The answer to “at what age should I teach my child to drive?” has a few parts
Preparing your child for safe driving should start well before they turn sixteen, and you can begin to teach them safety lessons at a very young age, while also giving them behind the wheel experience as young as thirteen or fourteen in the safe area of a private property.
With proper preparation, you can make the teaching process after your child receives their permit much easier and instill confidence in your child to help them remain safe once they are able to drive alone.