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Parents, are you ready to let your teen drive?

So your teenager passed their Learner’s test and they’re ready to get behind the wheel. Driving could be one of the most dangerous responsibilities your teen has faced in their life and it’s important to equip your child with good driving habits early in their driving life.
Barend Smit, Marketing Director of MotorHappy shares some important tips that could help keep your teen safe on the road.
“Firstly, place a Learner Drivers sign on the rear of your car. This isn’t required by law, but it is good practice because it might encourage drivers around you to be more patient when your teen driver stops for a little longer at a stop street or drives slowly down the road,” he says. “If you’re placing the sign in your rear-view window, make the sure the sign doesn’t obscure your vision. You can also stick a Learner Driver sign on the body of the back of your car.”
He outlines a few additional tips below, including what to do and think about before getting into the car and when you’re driving with your teen.

Before getting in the car

  • Many of us pick up bad driving habits over time. Think carefully about your driving and the habits you don’t want to teach your child.
  • Even though your child might have recently passed their test, review the road rules with them once again. This could help both parent and child!
  • Make sure your teen knows the controls of the car: brake, accelerator, indicator, gear shift, etc.
  • Remind your Learner Driver that they may only ever drive a car when they are accompanied by another person with a Driver’s License.
  • Plan your route and discuss it with your child. Initially try to choose easy, quiet routes with no traffic lights or traffic circles.
  • Make sure your car insurance covers other drivers. “If you’re unsure, contact your insurance provider to double check,” advises Smit.

Driving with a Learner Driver

  • Don’t panic and breathe deeply. (But not too obviously!)
  • Give clear instructions and repeat them calmly. Remember, your teen is nervous, so no sudden changes to the planned route.
  • Make sure your teen maintains both maximum and minimum speed requirements.
  • Be ready to hit the hazard lights if your Learner Driver accidently stalls the car.
  • Practice driving in different conditions: light, dark, rain, light, medium and heavy traffic. As your Learner Driver becomes more confident try out different types of roads like highways or busier main roads.
  • Once your child has their full Driver’s License, they will drive with passengers in their car. It’s important that your child understands this responsibility. Practice driving with passengers in the car.

Calling the professionals

Parent involvement is very important when it comes to teaching your child to drive, but it might be easier on everyone if your teen driver has a few lessons with a professional driving instructor first. It would also help to have a few lessons prior to doing the Driver’s License, to help iron out any problems and to help your child better understand what is required to pass the test.

  • Remember that not all driving schools are created equal. Get referrals from people you know and also check if the school is accredited with the Southern African Institute of Driving Instructors (SAIDI).
  • Meet your instructor, ask to see his credentials and ask him about the training process.
  • After the event, ask the Learner Driver about their experience and let them take you for a drive. Assess their progress.