Driving Is A Skill That Must Be Practiced
Learning how to stay focused when driving with distractions can be very challenging. As a parent, you have learned how to juggle driving a car with one hand on the wheel, drinking coffee with the other, and talking on the cell phone all at one time.
[Please note that this is NOT safe, and should not be done while driving a vehicle.]
While this may seem like second nature to you, your teenager has no clue how to handle multitasking to this extreme. Growing up, your children see you doing this on a daily basis, therefore deeming this behavior as normal. The minute they get behind the wheel though, they feel that they can handle multi-tasking as well. Obviously they have not had the same amount of practice you have which can prove to be a difficult task.
While I do not condone these types of distractions when driving, it’s important to understand that not all distractions are 100% negative. Learning to pay attention to your surroundings while holding a conversation with fellow passengers can be a good concept to learn.
Given time to practice, your teenager will slowly be able to take on multiple tasks at once, but don’t rush it. When you take your teen out on their first few driving lessons, make sure to keep the radio off and talk in a calm tone. You don’t want to overwhelm your teenager with distracting sounds that can affect his or her driving. Slowly incorporate other factors into the driving lessons, beginning with quiet background noise from the radio. Eventually move onto holding full conversations with them. This will introduce them to all types of distractions that can occur while driving.
Once your teen has obtained their driver’s license, restrict them from having too many passengers in the car at once. Some states have a 3-month rule mandating that for the first 3 months after obtaining a driver’s license, passengers under 20 years of age without a license are not allowed in the car.
If your state does not have this law in place, make it a personal rule for your teenage driver. Not allowing any other passengers in the car will help your teen get comfortable with driving without any major distractions.
There will always be some level of distraction when learning to drive, however, introducing these distractions into your teen’s driving lessons will be one of the most valuable learning skills you can teach.