It’s an exciting time for a teenager – the moment when they’re finally old enough to drive a car. If you’re a parent, however, it can be very stressful, especially if you’re the one teaching them. Imparting knowledge that you’ve learned over many years of being behind the wheel can cause a major shift in a parent-child relationship. But what matters most is remaining safe while you, your new driver, and all of your fellow drivers share the road.
What Happens with Your Insurance?
Provided your son or daughter already passed their learner’s test, they will automatically be covered under your insurance policy should an accident take place. In that case, however, you can expect your premiums to rise, especially if your child is between the ages of 16 and 24. This rate hike applies whether the individual is a learner or holds a full license because the insurance policyholder is lending both their car and their insurance to someone else.
Your increased premium will also depend on how often your child will be driving your car. Part-time drivers are less costly to insure than full-time drivers. And the most influential factor on your total insurance bill comes down to whether or not your child has a clean driving record. A few speeding tickets can push that total higher. Remember: as the policyholder, you are fully responsible for knowing the driving record of any secondary motorists on that same policy.
If your child has a job, you may suggest he or she eventually contribute money to pay for the premium increase. Or if they have their own vehicle, they should apply for their own insurance. You can compare rates for auto insurance here on RateSupermarket.ca.
The First Few Times Behind the Wheel
Before taking the wheel for the first time, involve your child in everyday driving situations. Explain when to brake, when to speed up and how to react under varying weather conditions. Point out the behaviours of other drivers and what they’re doing correctly and incorrectly. Share your own driving experiences – both negative and positive – and ask your child what they would do in these situations. Make it more conversational than instructional.
When you feel your child is ready, take him or her to the nearest school parking lot on a weekend. Explain all the basic functions of the car before letting him or her into the driver’s seat. After that, let them start the car and get a feel for the brake and the accelerator with the car in park. Then have them inch forward a little, do the same in reverse gear, and get them used to turning the wheel.
A good day for your child to drive on actual streets for the first time is on a holiday or Sunday morning. I remember my father finally letting then 18-year-old me drive around our neighbourhood on Victoria Day. If he noticed I was getting nervous or jittery, he would take me back to a parking lot to work on the basics.
The more you take your child for practice drives on main roads, the more confident he or she will become in their ability. One of the biggest mistakes parents make is yelling at their child for making mistakes. Ask them questions instead: for example, if they are going over the posted speed limit, ask them what the speed limit is on that particular street. If they made a left turn that was too close to oncoming traffic, ask them what they could have done better or what they can do next time they’re in that situation.
If your child is practicing for their full license, it’s best to get on a busy highway as soon as the main roads are mastered. As a learner I avoided the highway as much as I could and that was a mistake – it took six years before I felt comfortable driving on a multi-lane expressway. Another good challenge is to drive around in a busy urban area. I moved to downtown Toronto 11 years after getting my license and this was ultimately what really built up my confidence as a motorist. I can admit now that even in heavy traffic, I love driving through the downtown core.
Another major way to develop self-reliance behind the wheel is having your child learn how to drive during the winter. Driving through ice and snow prepares a new driver for some of the most dangerous traffic situations due to slick road conditions and poor visibility. You cannot avoid winter in Canada so it’s best to learn how to cope with it as soon as possible!
Why go to a Driving School?
If for whatever reason you don’t feel comfortable letting your child maneuver what is likely your most expensive piece of equipment, or if either you or your young driver have a temper, maybe it’s best to leave it to the professionals.
Regardless, it’s always a good idea to enroll your young motorist in a driving school in addition to your lessons. You can find a list of driving schools approved by your province or territory online (Ontario drivers, for example, can visit the Ministry of Transportation’s page to compare different schools). In addition to teaching skills that parents may have forgotten, taking a government-approved course could also reduce the cost of a first-time driver’s insurance policy. Taking one of these courses also means your child can apply for their full licenses in less time.
Teaching your child to drive is a long and challenging journey and it can take a few months or even several years before they feel content behind the wheel, but it’s a great experience that can bring you closer. And when the day comes that he or she offers to drive you somewhere, pat yourself on the back. You did a good job.
Does a new driver on your policy mean it’s time for new insurance? Compare the best rates today!