Your child has finally passed their driving test, and can now drive alone or with friends away from your watchful eye. It’s a turning point in a parent’s life, as much as a teenager’s, but it can also be a worrying time.
Driving experience means you understand the dangers that could lie ahead on the busy roads, but you may fear your inexperienced son or daughter doesn’t, and that now they’ve passed their test they may consider themselves invincible.
So what can you do to help calm your thoughts about your child being on the road?
Talking to your teenager
If you hold reservations about your teenager driving, remember that you were once in their shoes – excited to get out on the open road on your own; the world was your oyster.
You may once have tried showing off to your friends. This is all part of human nature, and it has been proven in an American study that adolescents are influenced greatly by their friends, seeking their approval.
Sitting down and talking with your son or daughter and reiterating the importance of safe driving may be a big reassurance to you both. Explain how one silly mistake, one second of lapsed concentration, or even going slightly over the speed limit, can have a fatal ending, for them and/or their passengers.
Ask them if they have any concerns about driving on their own, and try to advise them on what to do or direct them to the right person or information point (a trustworthy website such as RoSPA, driving instructor, etc) to help answer their concern. Or, you could ask someone that they listen to to talk with them, to try and help them get the message about safe driving.
The more experience teenagers gain before they start driving on their own, the safer they are likely to be. Exact figures vary, however the AA suggests on average 100-120 hours of supervised driving over a twelve month period, is considered necessary to make a decent driver.
Why not let your child take you on drives? You could then see for yourself how well they do and if they need a little encouragement or help in a certain area of driving. Try not to become an authoritative figure that they won’t listen to. Explaining a balanced view of any positives and negatives will help to air any concerns you or they may have.
Explaining the consequences
To an adolescent this conversation may be tiresome, but explaining to them the consequences of what could happen because of their driving, may hit home to them the importance of safe driving.
Authoritative TV shows can be a good way to help get your point across. The BBC programme Barely Legal Drivers follows newly passed, young drivers borrowing their parent’s car for a week, with telematics technology and cameras documenting every drive they take. Without them knowing, their parents are secretly watching them to see what they get up to.
A road traffic police officer also watches the footage, and at the end of the week, the officer takes in all information and assesses whether the driver should get a car of their own – or if they would benefit going on a driving course to further help their driving skills. The young drivers can then see what they are doing right or wrong and how different situations influence them and their style of driving.
By watching shows like this with your child it might help them relate to the drivers on the show, and see for real the dangers of driving irresponsibly.
A telematics black box fitted to the car is a great way to help monitor your child’s driving and show where they need to improve and where they are driving well. The telematics box gives an incentive to drive safely by providing a renewal price linked to your child’s driving style.
Telematics boxes can help keep young drivers safer and improve their driving skills, reducing riskier ways of driving, according to Kevin Clinton, the head of road safety at RoSPA. The boxes record a driver’s speed, distanced travelled, type of road travelling along, whether driving during the day or night as well as monitoring a driver’s acceleration and braking.
With an insurethebox policy, if your child is involved in a serious accident the telematics box can automatically alert us, and we can inform the emergency services and send them the precise location where the accident happened.
Safe Driving Agreement
Have you ever thought about producing a Safe Driving Agreement contract between you and your child? It is a voluntary agreement to encourage your child to drive safely.
The agreement lays out certain conditions regarding some of the most dangerous aspects of driving for teenagers, such as driving at night or on rural roads, driving with passengers in the car or under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and it works by having incentives and compromises for both of you.
For example if you set rules for your child to abide, then their reward could be you giving them some financial support towards their car or for them to have use of the household vehicle. If they break the rules then there will of course be consequences i.e. financial support will stop and they will no longer having access to a car.
Take a look at 4 Young Drivers who have a template you could use to base your agreement upon.
Gov.uk/pass-plus explains how this six hour training course is suitable for any driver, but is mainly aimed at newly passed drivers, to help improve their skills and encourage them to be able to drive more safely.
The course covers driving in all weathers, on rural roads and in towns, on dual carriageways, at night and on motorways. This provides a more comprehensive experience of road conditions. There isn’t a test at the end of the six hours; the driver will be assessed throughout the six hours of driving. As well as improving the safety of the driver, doing this can help to bring down insurance premiums a little too.
For more information about keeping your teenage driver safe, check out our blog post, or contact us to see how the benefits of telematics insurance policies from insurethebox can help keep your child safe.