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Preparing Your Teenager For Their Learner Licence Test

driver ed 4A lot of parents look forward to the day when their teenager can finally drive him/herself.  However, before you can enjoy the relative freedom of the P-plate days, you have to do through the L-plate stage – and the stage before the L-plates.  You may already have a few ideas up your sleeve about whether you’re going to be the one to teach your teenager how do drive, whether you’re going to sign him/her up for professional driving lessons or whether you’re going to go for a combination of the two.

But what about the stage before that? How are you going to help your teenager prepare for that?  They certainly do need your help preparing for this, as you’re the expert driver that they see driving on a daily basis (and don’t you just know it!).  What’s more, this is usually a time of life for them when the homework from school increases like nothing else (Talk about stressful for them! I wouldn’t want to go back to my teen years).

Here’s a couple of things that will help your teen get ready for that first test.

  1. Help him/her become familiar with a car and its controls. Although your teenager can’t drive legally on the road, he or she can still crawl up and down the driveway. Getting your teenager to start the car, back it out of the garage, drive it up the driveway and the like is a good way to introduce them gradually to the basics of clutch, brake, gear stick, steering wheel and accelerator.  After all, once they’ve got that learner’s permit, you want to make the most of your time on the road.  Those of you who have access to farm paddocks and other places that are legally considered to be off the road can give your teens more opportunity to practice before they hit the road.  If you don’t have much of a driveway and don’t have access to a nice big field, then letting your teen sit in the driver’s seat and learn where all the controls are and what they are called is a good start.  If you want your teen to learn in a manual car – which is a very good idea – let him/her practice doing gear changes in a stationary car with the engine switched off.
  2. Buy him or her a copy of the road rules. Quiz him or her on it as well as encouraging your teen to do online tests or mobile phone testing apps.  If you are brave, get him or her to test your knowledge.  You may get caught out!
  3. Discuss car-related topics. Talk to him or her about what sort of car they would like to have, car shows and the like.  Talk about safety issues, driver aids and whether they’re a good idea or not. Read car reviews  and blogs (like this one!) and discuss them.
  4. Teach him or her basic maintenance skills. This is something that isn’t covered in the licencing programme but is still very important for your teens to know. After all, you don’t want your P-plater to get stranded with a flat tyre and no clue as to how to change the tyre.  Let them know the basics about what’s under the hood.  Get him or her helping you to change the oil, change the air filters, fill up with fuel, etc.
  5. Limit or ban those computer games that feature driving. I may be alone here, but I have a theory that these programmes, while fun, desensitise teens to the consequences of bad driving.  In one of these programmes, bushes, road signs and the like go down like they’re made of polystyrene if your computer car hits them. In reality, a road sign will put a serious dent in the front end and is likely to take out the front windscreen as well.  As for cars that crash at 200+ km/h and go end over end a couple of times through the air but still drive away at the end of it with the damage meter going up just a little bit… The reality is that you and the car would be totally unrecognisable and very, very dead. I’ve seen the other half’s driving quality drop and silly risks get taken after an evening of playing driving games (and the other half is a grownup).  If you can’t ban these games completely, then at least limit them or discuss what would really happen if you drove like that in the real world.
  6. Talk about road safety and driving safety when you’re on the road. This is important for building awareness. However, it’s important to balance this with discussions about the fun of driving. If you always talk about the potential hazards non-stop and stress the importance of anticipating danger to a teen who is already a bit on the nervous side, you could end up making him/her paranoid and almost too frightened to get behind the wheel.  Driving safely is important but you don’t want to give the impression that every other driver is a potential drunken idiot who is out to Get You.  Scared inexperienced drivers make just as many mistakes, if not more mistakes, than overconfident, cocky know-it-alls.

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