I’m wondering when my kid should start learning to drive. Some parents are telling me to start early. Others are saying to wait! What’s your opinion?
– Pat A, Woodbury, MN
Inexperience is the number one reason teenagers die in car crashes. Because of that, my personal opinion is that you want to have as much time as possible to guide your teen while they’re learning to drive.
To me, the best plan is to start them learning as soon as legally possible. While they have their learner’s permit, follow the sequence of lessons that we describe in our “Roadworthy” DVD. That will lay a good foundation of practice, and you’ll be able to judge how well their skills are developing. When you know they’re ready, they should be the ones driving anytime you’re in the car together, so they can get as much experience as possible while you’re there to catch the mistakes.
If you wait until your son or daughter is 18 or older, it seems very unlikely that they’ll get a lot of practice driving time with you in the car. That time is when they learn to drive with the least risk. If they don’t learn early with you riding along in the car, they may somehow manage to pass their road test without enough practice driving. If that happens, their “”practice time”” is happening on the road, without that extra set of eyes from a parent in the passenger seat, which is dangerous for all of us.
And remember, just because they have their learner’s permit a certain amount of time does NOT mean they should get their license! Lesson 11 of “”Roadworthy”” explains what I did with my own three kids. It’s the best possible way I know to have a JUSTIFIED sense of security when your teen starts driving without you.