It’s difficult to think of a more quintessential right of passage than learning to drive and obtaining a driver’s license. It’s a feeling of freedom that kids and teens look forward to throughout childhood. And no amount of time spent playing with toy cars or having fun with video game simulations can compare to what it feels like to finally get behind the wheel of a vehicle.
Parents of teenagers who are approaching the legal driving age would be familiar with this feeling. That is, preparing for their sons and daughters to learn how to drive brings a mix of vicarious excitement and stressful apprehension. As great of a privilege driving is, it’s also a great responsibility relying on committing to safe habits. Teenagers are at an awkward stage of life between childhood and adulthood. And this fact can make it difficult for parents to assess whether their adolescents are prepared to take on such an important duty.
Are you a parent who is starting to consider drivers ed for your own son or daughter? Evaluating the following traits will help indicate if your teen embodies the characteristics necessary to be a skilled, cautious motorist.
Strong Sense of Responsibility
A good sign your teenager is ready for drivers ed is if they do well with managing their current responsibilities. These include getting to school on time, finishing homework consistently, and attending to chores without being prompted. Successfully meeting obligations is an essential part of growing up. Hence, the more self-directed your teenager is, the more likely they are to weigh the gravity of being an attentive and responsible driver.
Ability to Withstand Peer Pressure
Teenagers are at a fragile age where they are highly concerned with what others think about them. A large part of their self-esteem stems from being accepted by their peers. This is a perfectly normal part of development. However, it can become an issue when someone is willing to do something dangerous or out of character to please others. When it comes to driving, teens often encourage their peers with driver’s licenses to bend the rules. Some of this rule-breaking behavior includes speeding, violating peer passenger laws, or staying out past curfew.
Nearly all teenagers occasionally experience peer pressure, but not everyone can stand up against it. From what you’ve witnessed, does your teen easily cave under the influence of others? Or are they strong-willed enough to follow the rules and stay true to personal convictions despite what anyone else encourages?
If the latter seems to be true for your son or daughter, that’s a good sign. They will be determined enough to maintain safe driving habits and shrug off any risky requests from friends.
Respect for Boundaries and Rules
A large part of safe driving comes down to following the laws and guidelines designed to prevent hazardous scenarios. Deviating from these laws creates unnecessary risks for all parties on the road.
It’s essential to gauge whether your teenager will have the self-discipline to follow the important rules of the road. One helpful way to do this is to observe if they follow and respect boundaries at home and in school.
Weighing potential consequences before acting is a key component of demonstrating sound judgment. When adolescents are constantly getting into trouble at school or violating curfews, they may need a bit more time to mature before you can trust them to adhere to important traffic laws. There are teens who readily complete their chores and homework, showing no resistance to taking directions from teachers and parents. They will most likely demonstrate good behavior behind the wheel as well.
Mature Reasoning Skills and Level-Headedness
It’s no secret that teenagers can be moody at times. But excessive emotional explosions and fiery, hot-tempered reactions can lead to impulsive decisions while driving.
Driving is an incredibly liberating experience. Nonetheless, other drivers will occasionally make decisions that lead to feelings well beyond standard frustration, even for the most subdued personalities. A tricky, though necessary, part of safe driving is remaining calm behind the wheel, even amid situations that cause justified feelings of anger or heightened anxiety. A level-headed disposition allows for clear thinking and smart decision making. Meanwhile, being emotionally charged can lead to drivers becoming distracted, making risky maneuvers, or entering road-rage-fueled confrontations with other drivers.
Is your teen easy to reason with and generally remains even-tempered despite aggravating circumstances? Then it’s a good indicator that they have the temperament to stay alert and collected while operating a car.
Desire to Take Drivers Ed
While most teens can’t wait to take drivers ed and begin their journey toward becoming an independent driver, some don’t express that same fervent interest.
Perhaps your teen wants to delay the process a little longer because they don’t feel ready, or they want to wait until a friend is old enough so they can learn to drive together. There’s nothing wrong with waiting until they feel a bit more comfortable. Unless discouraged by irrational fear, most teenagers who initially put off driving will naturally come around after witnessing their newly licensed friends’ expanded freedom.
At the end of the day, there’s more to being ready to learn how to drive than simply meeting legal minimum age requirements. All teenagers mature at their own pace. That’s why one teenager may be responsible behind the wheel at 15, while a peer may need a bit more time to develop sound judgment. As a parent, there’s no greater expert on your child than you. If you feel that your son or daughter shows the willingness, maturity, and autonomy to become a safe driver, then you should feel confident and proud to help them start the life-changing process of getting a driver’s license.