As you all know, I have already taken one teenager through the process of learning to drive, and have another child that will soon be old enough to start to learn. This fact, and an article I was reading the other day about youth drivers throughout the world, reminded me that this is a subject that is potentially highly relevant to many of my readers.
Are they ready to learn to drive?
The first thing to realize is that not all teenagers are ready to learn to drive. Some youngsters are just too nervous, scatter-brained or clumsy to be able to manage this complicated task, safely. This is possibly why in most countries; kids have to wait until they are 18 before they can get behind the wheel. In many states, 14 year olds can still start to learn to drive, which means that the USA has some of the youngest drivers in the world.
There is no rush
If your child does not want to learn to drive, or you feel they are not ready the safest approach is definitely to leave it until they are ready. There is certainly no shame in doing so.
Recent statistics show that more and more American youngsters are leaving learning to drive for a few years. Apparently, only 24.5% of people aged 16 and under have a driving licence, in the past that figure would have been nearly 50%.
Giving them a flying start
Driving requires a long list of skills, many of which take time to master. The vast majority of vehicle accidents that involve teenage drivers occur, not because they are acting irresponsibly, rather because of a lack of experience.
To become good drivers, your teenagers need to start learning about road safety long before they get behind the wheel. The more they learn before it is time to drive the better.
For example, if your teenager already knows all about traffic signs, markings and the rules of the road they have a head start. They will know instantly what a sign is telling them, and how to use that information to stay safe, and legal. Therefore, teaching children what each road sign is and what it means from an early age makes sense.
It can also be a good way to pass the time on a long journey. There are plenty of online resources to help your kids to learn these basics, and test their knowledge, for example this driving signs quiz, is excellent.
Taking your kids cycling is a very good way to get them familiar with being a road user. In addition, riding bikes is a great way to enjoy time together as a family.
Motor skills are also important. If you have a ride on mower, let your kids learn to use it is a great way to get them used to steering a vehicle, as well as getting them to mow the lawn for you.
Encourage them to try out things like gokarting, mountain biking and other pastimes that will help them to learn how to place a vehicle where it needs to be. They will also learn how to be aware of what everyone around them is doing, another skill that will prove invaluable when they start to learn to drive.