Miss 16 has 40hours driving under her belt and she is at the stage now where she is the designated driver wherever we go, she has no choice. It is hard work to get the 120hours in a year but I want my kids to have as much experience as possible before I let them loose. A couple of weeks ago we were driving with Miss 16 and she negotiated a complicated merging lane incorrectly and ended up pulling in front of another car, no problem because the other car was being very aware of the "L" plate driver. Then she got off the merging ramp and an ambulance went past, a minute later another ones comes screaming past and cars are pulling off, then a third one. She is just recovering and a truck is broken down in the outside lane and she gets stuck behind it. We arrived at our destination and Miss 16 was quite shaken up, I calmly explained to her that is why getting all your hours up is so important because being a good driver is about understanding all the outside forces and other drivers, not just your own driving.
My husbands car has always been the dedicated "learner" car because it is old and only has bomb insurance so it didn't cost extra to add a learner driver. After our 6 hours spent in the car a couple weekends ago with hubby and I taking it in turns to get wind blown, I declared she was ready to drive the good car. This is where the drama with the insurance started. Our current insurer wouldn't cover Miss 16 to our insurance policy without tripling the costs and the excess so we started the quest to find cheap car insurance with adequate coverage. After speaking with other parents, plenty didn't realise that lots of insurers don't automatically cover learner drivers any more and this could be one expensive lesson if the worst was to happen. So if you have teenage kids, check out your insurance before they start driving. which kids can do
There are some government initiatives to help parents and kids, we did the keys2drive program which is a free lesson and chat with an instructor for both parents and the learner driver. We learnt so much in the lesson about the best way to teach, the stages of lessons and just watching the instructor teach Miss 16 was a real eye opener.
There is also a Safe Drivers Course which costs $140 and gives students 50 hours of logbook hours. It can only be done once the learner has 50 hours of driving hours experience. It is a three hour group discussion on how drivers can manage risks on the road followed by a two hour driving lesson with another learner which focuses on practical safe driving behaviours.
So here is my advice for teaching your kids to drive;
- Sort out your insurance and make sure they are covered to drive your car
- Service the car and get the mechanic to do a full safety check
- Get some driving lessons
- Do the free Key2Drive program with your kids
- Enrol them in the safe driver course
- Do the hours regularly, don't leave it all to the last minute. Make the learner the regular family driver, the most experience they have, the better driver they will be.