Parents find teaching kids to drive too stressful

By Anna Kantilaftas, 08 Jun 2016 Car Advice

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Parents find teaching kids to drive too stressful

Teaching learners to drive can be a stressful experience, but it doesn’t have to deter you from getting in the passenger seat forever.

Close to 30 percent of parents would avoid teaching their kids to drive again because it’s too stressful, according to a survey of 15,000 Navman customers. 

Teaching your child to drive is a daunting experience; there’s a lot that can go wrong. From accidents and conflicts to passing on your bad habits, giving your child the experience they need is a big responsibility. You want to make sure they learn the right skills to stay safe and pass their test, and you want everything to go smoothly.

Victoria’s Transport Accident Commission (TAC) lists car crashes, nerves, being too busy, conflict and danger as the top reasons parents and supervisors avoid getting in the car with L-platers.

There are other options, like paying a driving instructor and sending your kids to a driving school, but this won’t always get you out of the passenger’s seat – the more practice your child gets, the safer they’ll be when they’re out there on their own.

According to the Managing Director of Safe Drive Training Australia, Joel Neilsen – who is teaming up with Navman to run a ‘How to teach your kids to drive’ webinar in June – the biggest mistake parents make is throwing too much information at their child while he or she is trying to focus on the road.

“You are making the driver do things at the same time: take in new information and do a lot more that requires concentration. It is like if a Navman were to shout instructions in the middle of a busy intersection. This can increase the stress, risk of wrong action and possibly a crash,” he said.

Instead, he suggests “parents should always prepare the learner ahead of time to avoid potential risks on the road.”

Naturally, with a third of Navman customers scared off from driving with L-platers again, we had to get to the bottom of why. So we asked a few parents to share their driving-instructor experiences…

My wife and I shared the teaching of our son, and then he had a few ‘proper’ lessons as he got close to his 120 hours. (Also did a Safer Driver program through his school). He was very focused on getting his licence from the day he sat his L test and got his Ps three days after his 17th birthday (we live in Sydney). It was actually not that stressful and he was a very willing learner!” – Andrew

“Well, my partner and I taught my mum how to drive – now that was stressful. The reason mum took so long to learn how to drive in the first place was because she is terrified of oncoming traffic. She felt like every car moving towards her was going to drive into her head-on. There was also this time she confused the accelerator pedal with the brake while parking, so the car went flying up a curb with the front wheels helplessly spinning in the wet grass. And now my grandmother decided that at the age of 76 she would go and get her Ls and learn how to drive. Now my mum has to teach her mum – what goes around comes around.” – Anna

“I taught my older sister to drive when she was 25 and I was 21. She had an auto licence only (that's a thing in WA!) and needed a manual licence for her new job, so I taught her in two weeks… she burnt out the clutch in my car but she passed so I considered it a success.” – Laura

“I taught my sister to drive. Mum took her out first in a manual Nissan X-Trail and she drove about 200m without any dramas. I had a little automatic Honda Jazz. I took her around the block, but she couldn’t grasp the concept of how far she needed to turn the steering wheel to turn a corner. When I told her to turn into the driveway, she didn’t turn the steering wheel far enough and ended up accelerating instead of braking, right into the park next door to us. She crashed into the log bollard, which cracked in half and swung around to the doors, locking us in. I had to climb through the back to get out. The damage to the car was minor, but we were lucky we didn’t end up hitting the tree 30cm away. She didn’t drive for a year after she crashed the car, and four years later, I’m still teaching her to drive.” – Elise

“I have no recollection as my mind has erased the experience.” – Stephen

“One day I was shopping with my daughter (Anna) and decided I was going to let her drive around the carpark for one of her very first driving lessons. It had been raining all week, but on this afternoon the weather had cleared so I thought we’d make the most of it. I explained the workings of the Ford Falcon and the importance of seat belts, steering, gears, pedal, brakes etc. Anna listened intently with excitement in her eyes. She got into the driver’s seat, started the engine and carefully put the car in drive... then put her foot down HARD on the accelerator and the Falcon took off.... I shouted at her to brake subsequently causing the car to slide sideways to a screeching halt. Anna got out of the car quietly, and I drove us home in silence. I booked driving lessons for Anna the very next day. Now she’s a motoring journalist.” – Georgia.

"My daughter Rachel was my first L-plate guinea pig. She was nervous, and so was I. I drive a Mitsubishi 380, a lot of car for a learner first-up. I took her to an industrial area and we went through the basics. She seemed to enjoy it a little bit too much. We went out every day, night and weekend. Her hours climbed steeply and her confidence grew, she thought she was home and hosed. Then she got over-confident – she sailed through a roundabout, got a blast from the narrowly missed vehicle to her right and then the adrenaline hit her. We were minutes from home, she felt sick, the blood drained from her face and she wanted me to drive. We stopped and I told her to rest for a moment and then we’d go again. She stopped. We talked. She drove us home and now is much more diligent at intersections and roundabouts. She has had her licence for almost two years now and has close to 30,000km more on her odometer than when she purchased her car. Practice and many long distances have made her a good driver for her age group.” Janette.

“The scariest time on the road was when we had all the distractions in the car – the dog, the boyfriend (who the dog vomited on) and the sister – on a country road, on a dark night. We came across a rabbit in the middle of the road, and then a car decided to be on the wrong side of the road until the very last minute. Twice in one night we all thought we would die. Then an ambulance appeared out of nowhere, in the middle of nowhere. She handled the drive like a professional and we all managed to all stay alive, even the rabbit.” – Lindsay