Is your son or daughter learning to drive?
17 years have passed already!
How did that happen? Your baby has grown up, now they’re 17 and wanting to learn to drive. For them, learning to drive is one of the most exciting landmarks in your son or daughters life. It’s their ticket to independence, their opportunity to become more self-sufficient and less reliant on you. A driving licence can open up job opportunities and even if they don’t get a car straight away, their driving licence will stay with them for the rest of their life. It’s also a worrying time for you as parents as young drivers (17-24 years old) are the most vulnerable on the roads, statistically more likely to crash, and with a higher fatality rate than any other age group. Learning to drive and the driving test have both changed a lot since you learned to drive too. So what can you do to better prepare them for life on the roads?
Choosing a driving instructor for your son or daughter
Choose a reputable driving instructor. Although not essential, it’s a good idea to seek out professional tuition. A driving instructor knows what level your son or daughter needs to be at, not only to pass the test but to become a safe, confident and competent driver. It’s important that their instructor helps them work through the syllabus, teaching everything that is needed to become a safe and competent driver so that they can pass the driving test easily. It’s also important that they get on with their instructor as we all learn best when we enjoy it! Seek out recommendations and check out the instructors credentials. Trainee driving instructors can legally teach and although some are great, the majority never go on pass their qualifying exam. Look for a green octagon (fully qualified) in the windscreen rather than a pink triangle (trainee instructor) if you want to make sure the instructor is fully qualified.
It’ll probably take them longer to pass
Realise it may take more hours for them to pass than when you passed the test. Roads have become busier, junctions have become more complicated and the driving test has become longer and more difficult. Today’s learners have to negotiate multi-lane junctions and spiral roundabouts, the test is almost twice as long as it was 20 years ago and less faults are allowed during the test. As well as answering safety questions at the beginning of the test, learners are also expected to complete an independent drive. Now the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) have published that the average amount of hours with a driving instructor to pass the test is 47 hours! To be honest though, this is an average of everyone taking their test and generally speaking, young adults can learn quicker than other age groups and tend to pass sooner. Be aware that every learner learns at a different pace. It’s great it they’re a natural at driving, if they’re not, they may just need more time.
Join them on their driving lesson
Ask to sit in on one of their lessons. This will let you see how they are progressing and they may welcome the chance to show you how well they’re doing. Driving with Mum or Dad for the first time after they’ve passed can be stressful as they feel you watching them. In the familiarity of a driving lesson, they may feel more relaxed about driving with you in the car. You’ll probably find that some things have changed since you learned to drive too so might pick up some useful tips.
Give them your support
Be supportive and encouraging. Lots of mistakes will happen on their driving lessons with their instructor and at times they may feel like it’s a struggle to get everything right. Driving may be easy to you as you are an experienced driver, so imagine learning to fly a plane, would that be as easy as driving is for you now? Try to avoid putting pressure on them and be patient, it’s natural to you when you drive, and it will be for them, but it will take time to get to a level of competence. Confidence can drop and learning can be hindered if high expectations are placed on them.
Yes it is an expensive time in their lives, especially if you’re paying! Remember this is an investment, not only for them to have a licence for the rest of their lives, but an investment in their safety. Any cost incurred while they are learning to drive is insignificant to the cost of them losing their life behind the wheel. With your help, you can help keep the cost of their lessons manageable and help keep them safe when they venture out behind the wheel.
If you want to help your son or daughter to learn to drive by offering additional private practise in your car but your worried about adding them to your insurance, specialist insurance companies offer ‘bolt on’ insurance for learner drivers which doesn’t affect the main policy, from 7 days to 1 year cover, visit www.collingwoodlearners.com Use code 209438 for further discounts.
Be aware of your legal responsibilities: The car must be properly insured. Supervising drivers must have had a licence for 3 years or more. As the supervising driver, you are eligible for any driving offences whilst supervising a learner driver, for example, using a mobile phone, even though you’re in the passenger seat!