A Parent’s Guide to Teaching Teens How to Drive

Because preparation creates confidence.

learning to drive teen driving tips for parents Getty Images/Peathegee Inc

Learning to drive doesn’t begin in a classroom or even behind the wheel.

Years before you have to think about learner’s permits, you can help your teen prepare for the big day by passing down your driving wisdom. Not only will they get a head start on learning to drive, but they’ll also better understand the responsibilities that come with it. Here’s how:

Set a good example

Your teen will spend countless hours watching you drive—so be sure you’re setting the standard for what’s acceptable. Stow your phone, wear your safety belt (no matter how short the ride), obey traffic laws and avoid aggressive driving—that behavior will help shape your teen’s judgment

Point out bad habits

While you’re setting a good example, you should also specify what isn’t acceptable. When you see another driver running a red light or tailgating, for example, tell your teenage passenger why those habits are dangerous.

Explain what it means to be a good passenger

Encourage your teen to speak up when they see a driver using bad habits, such as texting while driving. This lesson will also be particularly important when your teen is a passenger in another teen driver’s car.

Help them understand the license process

Learning to drive also means learning about graduated licenses and restrictions. Make sure you understand the process in your state, and in turn help your teen understand the steps it will take to get their license. It’ll be important to them to know when they can start learning to drive in the classroom and on the road.

Introduce them to the responsibilities of car ownership

Driving is one part of the equation. Taking care of your car is another. Help your teen understand the tasks associated with driving, from pumping gas and cleaning the car, to changing windshield wipers and understanding dashboard warning lights. Highlight the financial responsibilities, including insurance, too.

Let them help navigate the way

Part of a successful start to driving is knowing where you’re going. Help your teen better understand their city by pointing out major streets and frequently traveled routes. You can even put them in charge of calling out directions for errands or longer trips to become familiar with how to read a map and how voice-guided navigation works.

Keep reading in: