Learning to drive is a big thing for your child. I remember how nervous I was before my first lesson and on my subsequent test. I was lucky as I passed first time, i’m not sure if I would now!
As a parent it’s sure to be as nerve-racking for you to see your child behind the wheel for the first time. There are some things you can do, though, to help make it a little easier for both your new learner driver and yourself. Have a read of our top tips:
Learning the Highway Code: The internet contains fantastic resources to help your child prepare for the DVSA mock theory test, none better than Toptests.co.uk. There’s a whole heap of free mock tests they can use to test their knowledge – using questions based on the Highway Code. You might even like to try the tests yourself to refresh your knowledge and, of course, act as examiner.
Be patient: If you have opted for them to learn with a professional instructor then don’t push for too much progress too soon. If you’re personally teaching your child to drive patience is even more important. According to Moneysupermarket.com, research by the AA found that one in 20 people think that getting into the passenger seat with their learner child behind the wheel is more stressful than giving birth, sitting exams or dealing with illness. Keep calm and, if they are making mistakes, don’t grab the wheel or go for the handbrake; instead ask them to pull over when it’s safe to stop and discuss what they are doing wrong.
Set a good example: You’re in a great position to demonstrate the qualities needed to be a safe and competent driver, so you yourself need to show that you can drive in a safe and proper manner and act as a role model. Always wear your seatbelt and don’t use your mobile phone behind the wheel. Drive courteously and don’t lose your temper.
Take an interest: The DVSA will allow a young person to apply for a provisional driving licence when they’re 15 years and 9 months old. You can start driving a car at 17, or 16 if you want to ride a moped or light quad bike. Around the time your child reaches these age brackets, speak to them. Ask them when they feel ready to learn and help them to understand what will be involved in getting their licence when they’re good and ready.
Junior driving schools: Even before your child is old enough to apply for a licence they can now experience their first taste of driving on a specially constructed road course in a safe environment at a young driver school. The AA and Admiral both run young driver training for children as young as 11. Admiral says that research shows it’s a lack of driving experience, “not a lack of years on the planet” that causes 1 in 5 newly qualified drivers to crash within 6 months of passing their test. It believes that gaining the skills they need at an early age boosts a young person’s confidence when they do get behind the wheel on a public road.
Correct insurance: If you yourself have decided to teach your child to drive then ensure you are both properly insured. Contact your insurance company and let them know you will be taking your child out for lessons. To supervise your child when they are a learner driver you must have a full and current licence for three years and it must be in the same category as the vehicle your child is driving. Help your child to get the right insurance in place once they pass too, and to understand the cost of this, which is likely to be significant in the first few years.