Teaching your child to drive

Teaching your child to drive

"Don't worry, I know what I'm doing." As any parent will understand, those seven words are hardly reassuring at the best of times. But when they're used by your son or daughter just before they take to the road for the first time on their own, they stir-up fears of screaming wheels, blaring music, near-misses, dents or worse.

Why? It's because every parent was a new driver once and they appreciate the freedom that driving brings, the thrill of boundless possibilities and the promise of petrol-fuelled adventure. The desire to rip up your L-plates, shove your driving instructor into a puddle and try and head off to the coast on five pounds' worth of petrol is almost impossible to contain.

And yet the wrinkle-inducing truth is that the open road can be a dangerous place, especially for young drivers. 18 year olds are twice as likely to make an insurance claim than those in their fifties* male drivers aged 17 to 21* are almost ten times more likely to be killed or seriously injured behind the wheel than men aged 40 to 59; and almost a third of young drivers admit to driving dangerously when friends are in their car*.

They're sobering statistics, but the reality is that the learning to drive experience is equally stressful and challenging for all parties involved. Teenagers are notoriously headstrong and impatient, and the combination of simultaneously being in a confined space and a highly pressurised situation can cause cracks in even the most solid of relationships. As a parent though you are uniquely positioned to help prepare your young driver for many of the risks they face. The mentor/ learner driving relationship is fragile, and should be approached with care. This guide is designed to help you charter the turbulent waters of the open road, and emerge with your family relationships intact. Don't worry, we're not going to suggest that you make a point of sitting in the back seat every time they take the wheel (although 97% of young drivers strictly follow the rules of the road when this happens!*), but by taking a more practical approach to driving, you can help keep them safe - and put your own mind at rest.

18 year olds are twice as likely to make an insurance claim as those in their fifties.

* Research commissioned by Aviva with 500 17 - 21 year old drivers, October 2009

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