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Parenting Teens

3 Things That Are Helping Me Teach My Teenager How to Drive

teaching teen to drive

My 17-year old teenage son is working on getting his license.  Cebastian procrastinated after getting his learner’s permit, but when his friends started getting his license, he got serious.  I also started pushing him a bit more because chaffering your kids, especially when they are over 16 years old, around gets old. I’m ready for him to run errands, drive his sister around, and drive ME around.  

When I was learning how to drive, I can count on my fingers how many times I drove with my parents in the car.  I also remember my dad freaking out when he was teaching me how to drive stick shift, and I couldn’t grasp how to switch the gears.  Luckily, my mom had a better approach and had a great trick that in no time got me used to it.  After that, I took a driving class, and then I went and got my license.  At that time, there was a lot of teenage deaths and injuries due to car accidents.  Therefore, I am happy that Virginia has added new requirements for a teenager to get his/her license:  

  1. Has to be in the car with a parent for 45 hours, as well as 15 hours of nighttime driving
  2. Can’t drive between midnight and 4AM
  3. Can’t have more than one person under 21 years old in the car with you for the first year. After that, it goes up to three

As of today, we have ten more hours of driving, and six of nighttime.  He is almost there!  Here are some ways that has helped me teach my teenage son how to drive, and how I keep track of the hours.

1. Check to see if your DMV has a Parent/Teen Driving Guide and follow it 

Virginia has a great Parent/Teen Driving Guide on how to teach your teenager how to drive. Check if your state has something similar.  We started following it, and I am making sure he knows how to drive in all the situations in the guide. 

We started driving around parking lots for the first few weeks. After that, we started driving in neighborhoods.  He is now driving in busy streets, parking lots, and has started driving on the highway.  We have deviated a bit from the guide, but at least it helped get us started. It was nice seeing the progression from a kid who was afraid to step on the accelerator to one that was driving around neighborhoods.

2. Keep a log using your favorite spreadsheet application

The guide has a tracking sheet to help you log the hours spent in the car with your teenager.  In Virginia, you have to track:

  1. How much time was spent in the car
  2. How many miles
  3. How much of the time was driving at night

They do have a tracker in their guide. However, it’s in paper format. I tried using it, but one spilled coffee accident and that was it. Therefore, I decided to switch to an electronic format. Google Spreadsheets worked for me to track the hours Cebastian spent in the car. Below you can get the spreadsheet that I created and used.

3. Use Google Timeline or Similar Tool

Google Timeline

I have the Google Maps app on my phone.  There are times that I forget to log the minutes we have practiced driving when we get home.  Therefore, best way to keep track of how long your teen drove, and the miles is to use something like Google Timeline.  I want to make sure that we drive together for the required time so that he has the practice needed before he starts driving on his own, so this is the best method for me to do this.

How you use it is going to Google Maps, click the three bars, and you should see the option for “Your Timeline.”

Driving with your teen can be nerve-wracking, but you have to remember that it’s worse for him/her.  Therefore, you have to keep calm.  There are times that he gets too close to other cars or takes the turn too fast, but I just have breathe deeply and tell him what to do the next time. 

In the beginning, Ceb was so nervous that his hands would tremble.  However, he is becoming more confident with his driving.  When I would suggest driving on a major road, Ceb would tell me that we would wait another week.  Now, he is asking to drive on the highway.  I am glad that this requirement that a teen drive with his parent for 45 hours exists.  It is a better experience to learn to drive than I had when I was a teenager, and I feel we have gotten closer because we have talked about all different things because we are in the car together.  

Please share how driving with your teen has gone or is going!

teaching teen to drive

Featured Photo by Taras Makarenko from Pexels

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