Preparing younger drivers for the road
Many parents feel nervous about taking their son or daughter out on the road - and why wouldn't they? It can often be a heady mix of frustration, danger, adrenaline and family politics.
However, as Kevin Clinton, Head of Road Safety for RoSPA explains, "Taking learners on frequent practice sessions, to support professional lessons, will help build up experience in many different road and traffic conditions. This will help them pass their driving test, but crucially it will also help them to be a better, safer driver after the test. The more structured private practice that your learner takes, the more experienced they become, and the less likely they are to crash."
Before you get in the car, to help a young driver, the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) advises, "First of all check that you have the right credentials; you must be over 21 and have held a full UK driving licence for over three years. Also, you can't be paid for time spent practicing with a young driver." Additionally, your son or daughter will need to be added to your car insurance, so ensure your policy is up to date.
There is, of course, another document that you'll quite probably need to reacquaint yourself with before you head-off. Dominic Marder, Managing Director of Drive Sense a leading driver training agency, explains, "When was the last time you read the Highway Code? It's common, in the heat of the moment, for your learner to ask 'what do you know?' - if you've reviewed the rules of the road you can answer 'quite a lot actually' and not get into an argument with them." It's not a good idea to subject your son or daughter to a surprise emergency stop exercise, instead calmly discuss what they want to achieve during the drive and agree a plan in advance. If you want, ask their instructor which skills your learner needs to work on, and construct the practice sessions based on his or her advice. Plan routes that you know they will have to drive frequently when they pass the driving test, and take them out at different times of the day.
Finally, it's not unheard of for parents to use their learner's practice sessions as a free taxi service to the pub! Don't drink alcohol before getting into the car with your young learner, as it doesn't set a good example, and you never know when you might need to take the wheel. Remember, rules such as the drink drive laws and the ban on using a mobile phone while driving apply to anyone supervising a learner driver. Although you may not actually be driving, you are in control of the vehicle.