The time has come, it’s time to gird your loins and take the bull by the horns, time to find out if those blood pressure tablets really work or if you need to fake an injury. It’s time to teach your child to drive. The official government website, NZ Road Code has fantastic details on what needs to be done in order to gain a driver’s license however it doesn’t give many practicalities on being your child’s supervisor. There’s no anger management tips, no first aid suggestions for bitten lips or hints on how to get the finger indents out of the dashboard. But in all seriousness, let’s consider what you need to do to prepare to teach your kids to take the wheel.
Before you begin, there are 7 simple, but important steps to start the whole process.
- Get current on the rules.
Many drivers do not maintain their knowledge of the current rules of the road. Familiarise yourself with the rules as they exist. And I know you think you might be an expert but it wouldn’t hurt to have a look at the NZ Road Code website. I mean, you have to test the learner and it will be a bit embarrassing if they prove you wrong.
- Do a vehicle check.
Is your car the safest car to teach your kid? Last year approximately 650 learner drivers were responsible for accidents that resulted in injury. And there were many more minor accidents that caused damage to property (including the car). So remember that your trainee is not the safest driver in the street and you need to ensure that the car you use to teach your child is in sound mechanical condition.
You might want to consider buying a vehicle specifically for this purpose, and then gifting the vehicle to your child as a reward for getting their license. The Safe Teen Driver site has information on choosing a vehicle for your new driver.
- Inform your insurance company
This is something you might not be aware of; “fronting” is the act of insuring a vehicle under your own name whilst another driver drives the vehicle the majority of the time. The insurance industry considers this a form of fraud and they are entitled to cancel insurance and deny claims if they identify this act. It would be in your best interest to inform your insurance company that your child is learning to drive in your car so that should an accident occur, your insurer will still cover you.
Some insurance companies will make allowances for a young driver so check with your insurance company and read the policy fine print for specific exceptions. For example, if an accident occurs when the young driver is out after driver curfew, then the claim might be denied.
- Check your status carefully
Make sure your license is current; you will need to have been driving for at least 2 years and remember to have your license with you when training your child.
- Prepare for the worst!
The New Zealand Road Code site has a page for driving coaches which has more information, including a very helpful syllabus to help you plan your lessons. Read it carefully and prepare each lesson before hopping in the car. It will give great hints like starting the lessons on quiet streets to slowly build confidence.
Eventually plan the lessons to become more complex by choosing appropriate road conditions, for example, hilly roads to teach hill starts, or empty car parks for tight corner handling and parking. Resist the temptation to use private properties like universities as they may prohibit learner drivers. The same goes for National Parks.
There is also a great UK site, Driver Active, which provides detailed information for trainers, although, of course, some items pertain specifically to UK rules and conditions however I found it very practical and useful.
- Finally – on the road
And now the hardest part of the whole lesson plan – getting dressed for your lessons. Put on your patience “hat” and calm down “coat”; pull up your “anti-angry pants” and slip on your “settle-the-heck-down” shoes. We love our kids, but sometimes they don’t listen. This is a new situation for them and so they will be nervous, excited, anxious and prone to not paying close attention. Don’t snap orders or flood them with instructions as they might get confused, panicky and flustered. Warn them you are going to do this slowly, calmly and if they have questions they are welcomed to ask anytime. Let them know they are going to make mistakes but you’re there to help them learn from such mistakes. Anytime they want to stop or pull over, let them.
Take some water (for your dry mouth), tissues (because there will be tears) and a sense of humour because one day, you’ll be about to laugh about this experience when it comes time for your child to teach their child! I hope these tips help you start and maintain an even keel when you’re in the passenger seat and happy and safe driving.
Perhaps you have taught you child to drive and have some other tips to share. Feel free to make a comment below.