As a parent with a newly minted – or soon-to-be – teen driver, you may have worries about how your teen will handle the responsibility of operating a vehicle. Will they make a mistake? How will they react in new situations? Will they be as careful as they should be?

In truth, teen drivers may face greater risks than others simply because they are inexperienced. However, the only way to get better is to keep practicing. Fortunately, there are things you can do as a parent to help your child become a safe and successful driver.

What risks do teen drivers face?

Teen drivers face a number of risks that parents should be aware of. While many of these are risks all drivers face, teens are especially vulnerable because of their lack of experience.

  • Distractions: Teens are notorious texters. Failing to put the phone down while behind the wheel, however, can be problematic.
  • Too many passengers: When too many people are in the car, it can be difficult for a new driver to concentrate.
  • Impaired driving: Not all teens drink, but teen years are often a time for experimentation with alcohol or other substances. When combined with driving, the outcome can be grim.

These are just a few of the risks teen drivers face, and you may know of others your child faces. Mitigating these risks can come with practice and careful instruction from you, the parent.

What to keep in mind when teaching your child about driving

Parents can play a crucial role in helping their teens become skilled and safe drivers. All it takes is a bit of coaching and a lot of patience. When you’re helping your child learn how to drive, keep the following points in mind:

  • Keep it low-risk in the beginning. As you practice driving with your child, start with optimal conditions: a sunny day and an empty road or parking lot. As your child feels more comfortable with the basics, you can expand to different weather or more heavily trafficked roads.
  • Mistakes will happen. Your child is a beginner. Beginners make mistakes. Help your child learn from their mistakes, and let them know when they do something right.
  • Give clear instructions. Your teen is looking to you for guidance. Make sure you’re clear about what they should be doing.
  • Be patient. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. Perfection doesn’t happen overnight. Your child will make mistakes and may get frustrated. Be patient and encouraging.
  • Set a good example. Drive the way you teach your child to drive. If your child sees you rolling through stop signs or speeding to get them to practice, they are likely to mimic your behavior. If you do make a mistake and your teen points it out, acknowledge your error.

As a parent, you have the opportunity to help your teenager become a safe driver. Following these tips can not only help your child be responsible on the road, but it can also help you rest easier knowing your child has the tools they need to be safe and successful.