Friday, 5 August 2016

Kids and cars; a productive rant about your kids learning to drive

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Children. Some say that they grow up too fast, but most of the time I don’t think they grow up fast enough. In any case, one day they’re a baby, and the next they’re a teenager, looking to start driving cars. Before long, the law will actually allow them to do it. What can parents do to help their kids when it’s time for them to learn how to drive? Perhaps this article will reveal all.


Kids?

You do realize that when I say “kids learning to drive”, I don’t literally mean “children”, right? I’m using the word “kid” to refer to your son or daughter, who is presumably old enough to start learning how to drive. If your kid isn’t a teenager yet and they’re learning how to drive, then you should probably put a stop to that. No-one can legally operate a car in the UK before they are seventeen, although some would like that to be lowered. (Of course, some would prefer it to be raised.) If your son or daughter suffers from certain kinds of disabilities, it’s possible that they could start learning from the age of sixteen.

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Starting them early

Having said that, there are certainly ways in which you can drill some key lessons into your children at a young age. Children will often pay close attention to your behaviour when you’re out on the road. So if you’re a bad driver who engages in plenty of speeding and swerving, then your child could end up picking up bad habits.

You need to be very conscious of your driving while your child is in the car. Okay, you should be very conscious about your driving anyway, but you know what I mean. If you’re a relatively sensible driver but you’ve got severe road rage, that could be a problem. It associates driving with anger and danger within the onlooking child. If someone on the road isn’t following the rules, you should point them out to your child and explain the situation. Just do it without, y’know, calling the other driver a c… ahem, a nasty name.
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Is a parent always the best teacher?

Okay, so let’s assume that you drive a car. Most parents do. Many would argue that the best driving teacher a teen could possibly have is one of their parents. And there are definitely a lot of good arguments for that kind of method. Unfortunately for you, they really only apply to other countries such as the United States. Unless they are an Approved Driving Instructor, a parent can't contribute to required lesson hours. Sorry. You can’t get free driving lessons here! (Unless, of course, you do sign up to be a Approved Driving Instructor. But that’s not free, either.)

This can actually be seen as a good thing, in some respects. Teens are likely to be much more nervous and self-conscious around their parents when they’re learning to drive. You may think that’s a good thing. We all like making teenagers nervous and self-conscious, after all. But behind the wheel, it’s actually likely to lead them to make more mistakes.

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Why professional instructors are better, anyway

So I’ve already mentioned the fact that your presence is going to make them more nervous. But the fact is that a professional instructor is so much more prepared for any possibilities when something goes wrong. Yes, I just heard you gasp there. I know you don’t like to think about it, but it’s likely that your kid will make a mistake when they’re learning. I’m not talking about major, life-threatening ones, though. I’m talking about clipped wing mirrors, wrong turns, speed miscalculations. Hey, you probably made mistakes too. An instructor is trained to deal with these sorts of things going wrong; they deal with them every day, after all.

They’re also a lot more attuned to everything that is going on within the car while your kid is driving. So it’s best that you leave the learning to an instructor, anyway. However, you can help your kid with their practise hours. As long as you fulfil all the criteria, you can legally oversee their practice hours, of which they need about twenty-two. If you can’t do it, a friend who fulfils the criteria could do it, too!

Buying your kid their first car

All right! This is what you’re really here to do! At least, that’s probably how your teen is going to see it. But seriously, your involvement in the car-buying process can be a huge help to them. After all, no matter how much they think they know about cars because they’ve seen The Fast and the Furious, you really know best about the car they need.
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Of course, due to the aforementioned The Fast and the Furious fandom, they may also be expecting a really crazy first car. Something luxurious, beautiful, classic. Something that can hit unrealistic amounts of speed in unrealistically short amounts of time. It’s time for you to crush those dreams. Your kid needs a car that’s sturdy, reliable - and reasonably priced. It’s not likely this is a car they’re going to have for decades, after all. Having said that, you can find desirable used cars that could last the distance. Places like Hilton Garage specialise in quality used cars, so you may want to browse places like that.

Once they’ve got their licence

Woo! It’s done! They may have had a few fender benders; they may even have failed multiple times beforehand. But the day has finally come: they’ve passed the test and gotten their license. So is this where you step back and let them do their own thing? Well, not quite.

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Obviously, you don’t want to baby them. But the first year of driving after passing the test is a very high-risk time. They may have gotten the shiny plastic card, but they’re still very inexperienced drivers. They’ll probably have accumulated about 80-100 hours of driving at this point. Most people on the road have thousands. Keep up-to-date with their driving behaviour as much as you can. Don’t be afraid to go on drives with them and offer any advice you can.

** This is a collaborative post

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