Surviving the Learner’s Permit

We knew the day was coming. The countdown to 15 1/2 years was ticking away. Then suddenly it arrived, and I had no excuse, I had to renew my driver’s license so it only made sense to take “the kid” with me to get his permit.

He was already enrolled in Driver’s Education locally and he had the form filled out and ready to go. I found myself asking one question so often those first few days,

How is it that our little children go from child to driver in only the time it takes to print out that little permit?

Suddenly they are expected (by all other drivers on the road) to go from child passenger to perfect driver the moment they get behind the wheel.

As a parent we likely dread the moment we hand the keys to the teenager, knowing that for the time they are behind the wheel we are not at all in control. I believe that this fact alone is the most feared part of letting our teen drive.

So, the prevailing question these days from most friends and family is… “How do you do it?”

I have to say it isn’t automatic. There’s no switch that gets flipped the second your teen has permit in hand that suddenly acclimates you as a parent to the idea of them driving… or that miraculously makes them know all the rules of the road.

I also wasn’t prepared to be just as much of a learner as he is. But as soon as he got behind the wheel it was sadly apparent that I personally had no idea what I was getting myself into. No one had prepared me for this, sure I drive, and I’m a conscientious driver, but that alone is not enough to prepare for the reality of a teen behind the wheel.

I’m sure that there’s information and articles out there, but it had never occured to me to look for them, it’s just part of being a parent isn’t it? Sometimes I forget that although there isn’t technically an instruction manual I’m not alone.

So for those of you who might be like me and not think to look for an article for the parents of a teen driver I’m going to be presenting some tips here and there and right now offer you a license to LOOK IT UP for yourself, go ahead and look online for articles and tips for the parents of new teen drivers!

To start, here’s my little step by step suggestion list:

Again, it’s all about taking each new step as the teen shows signs of being ready:

  • Step 1: parking lots, rural roads, side streets
  • Step 2: rural town, light traffic time of day, lots of instruction along the way
  • Step 3: city, a little heavier traffic, a few more lights and lanes, again a lot of instruction
  • Step 4: highway/freeway, parent uses most of the visuals when merging and switching lanes, staying on the freeway for one long stretch is ideal for the first few tries
  • Step 5: more complicated roads and situations, helping the teen do their own checking for merging, turning, switching lanes, etc.
  • You get the idea :).

Also at the top of my “parent’s should know” at the beginning list:

Consider getting a “Learning Driver” sign for your car’s back window. Many Driver’s education programs will provide parents with something that they can use to alert other drivers that there is a teen driving your car, but in case yours doesn’t please consider investing in one of these signs for your car. Typically the drivers behind you will slow down and be more patient and understanding… otherwise they tend to ride the bumper, honk and be annoyed which also tends to stress out the teen driver.