How to support your teen learner driver

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Be patient and listen to the instructions the examiner gives during the test. If you don't understand the examiner's instructions, ask questions for clarification". (Getty Images)
Be patient and listen to the instructions the examiner gives during the test. If you don't understand the examiner's instructions, ask questions for clarification". (Getty Images)
  • Letting your learner licence wielding teen loose on the road can be a scary thought for any parent. 
  • But according to a local expert, your 17-year-old is perfectly poised for learning how to drive. 
  • She shares her tips for how you can best support your teen learner driver. 

Getting a driver's licence is one of the first 'adult' things your learner licence wielding teen will want to do but are they truly ready to take on the responsibility? And what's the best way to support them?

Elize Korf, Director of the He and She Driver Training Centre, spoke with Parent24 about the teen journey to becoming a driver, advising that a keen interest in getting behind the wheel is the first sign that your child is ready to take to the road. 

That, and watching you like a hawk as you drive while also providing unwarranted commentary on your driving skills, Korf says. 

Still, if you're worried that your 17-year-old is too young, Korf assures that it's not such a bad idea.

"We recommend that the teen starts driving as soon as he or she turns 17 as they learn easier while they are young and the brain is actively involved in learning in school or tertiary education," she explains. 

Also read: Are you ready to teach your teen to drive?

'Set a good example' 

If you're thinking that getting the process started yourself with home lessons would be a great way to support your teen, Korf advises taking a combination approach instead.

This is where a teen practises what they've learned from a professional driver with their parents, considering safety precautions such as avoiding peak traffic hours and busy roads that might prove too stressful for both you and your child.

"It is important to note that most vehicles used by driving schools are fitted with dual controls of which is not fitted in parent's vehicles," Korf says. 

Encouraging words and advice might prove more effective; Korf says, noting that showing interest in your child's new focus by asking questions and making time to talk them through different driving scenarios might prove impactful. 

These conversations are best done while on the road, Korf advises, a kind of on-the-drive training.

And of course, don't forget to practise what you preach. 

"Set a good example by following good driving practises when you drive with your teen as a passenger". 

Signs that your child isn't quite ready for becoming a driver, according to Korf, include:

  • Expressing no interest and flat out refusing to start driving. 
  • Making excuses for not booking driving lessons.
  • Arguing or getting angry behind the wheel. 

The big day

Nerves can get the better of even the most confident driver come test day and we asked Korf for her best tips for teens the day of their driver's licence test; here's what she told us:

  • Arrive at the traffic department well in time. Do not be late; this will make you nervous.
  • Deep breaths have always proven to calm a person's nerves; if you feel your heart racing and your head pounding take a few deep breaths in and out to relax.
  • Remember, minor mistakes will not result in immediate failure, do not dwell on minor mistakes.
  • Concentrate on making the best of the chances you still have to make a good impression. 
  • Be patient and listen to the instructions the examiner gives during the test. 
  • If you don't understand the examiner's instructions, ask questions for clarification. 

Chatback:

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