Are you ready to teach your teen to drive?

Starting early may be the key to instilling good driving habits in your soon-to-be young adult.
Starting early may be the key to instilling good driving habits in your soon-to-be young adult.

Driving is a responsibility even some grown-ups seem ill-equipped to handle, so you may be sprouting a few grey hairs at the thought of teaching your teen how to drive. 

But starting early may be the key to instilling good driving habits in your soon-to-be young adult. 

In South Africa, a learner's license can be obtained from age 16 and for a motorcycle, and from age 17 for a light motor vehicle. 

MotorHappy's Marketing Director Barend Smit says that while it isn't a legal requirement, a good starting point is placing a Learner Driver sign in the back of your car. 

"Firstly, place a Learner Drivers sign on the rear of your car. This isn't required by law," he said, "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 advises placing the sign either in the rear-view window or "on the body of the back of your car."

Smit supplied Parent24 with a extra few tips for parents keen on teaching their kids the ins and outs of driving. 

A check list before starting 

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

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. 

Also see: Passengers cause more accidents than mobile phones and other fascinating driver facts

Know what to expect when driving with your 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 accidentally stalls the car.

Practice driving in different conditions: in daylight, at night time, in rain and in 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. 

When to call in 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 test, 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 a lesson, ask your learner driver about their experience and let them take you for a drive so you can assess their progress.

And most of all: Good luck! 

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