It’s always scary for a parent when their teen starts driving, but for parents of children living with ADHD, it can be overwhelming. Knowing your child is safe when behind the wheel is a huge priority, but the hard truth is we can’t always be with our children when they are away from home. All we can do is teach them the best ways to be responsible when they are out in the world, including being a good driver.
“The problem is that the skills affected by ADHD are the ones you most need for driving. People with ADHD have serious difficulties planning, following through, and staying on task — things you need to do to drive safely,” says psychologist Nadine Lambert.
Fortunately, there are some simple ways to teach your child about safe driving once they’re behind the wheel. With a good plan, you can help your child make the most of his driving years. Here, Testbuddy presents a lot of courses and the best tips on how to do just that.
Make Sure They’re Covered
Before your child gets behind the wheel for the first time, you need to make sure you’ve added them to your auto insurance plan. Although there isn’t a set amount you can expect to pay — auto insurance tends to vary by state, gender, and age — you should expect a bump in premiums, as insurance companies tend to view teenagers as liabilities.
And when your child turns 18, that number could increase since they will often spend more time driving than before. Before paying higher premiums, it’s a good idea to shop around to see if you can find a less costly policy. Look for well-known insurers with strong ratings.
While some documents are legally required to be in the vehicle at all times, digitize all other car-related documents to ensure you can find them when you need them. All you need is a small scanner or smartphone scanning app and a few free online tools. A PDF conversion tool is a good software solution so that you can easily change file types before storing them in the cloud.
Although the legal driving age is 15 years and 8 months, many experts believe that it can be extremely helpful to start teaching your child with ADHD to drive when they’re younger, around 14. This is because that’s usually the sweet spot in a teen’s life where their parents can be seen as authority figures in a loving way rather than as an oppressor.
Be sure to check out TestBuddy whenever you start working with your child on their driving. They offer helpful information and resources to make learning to drive easier for the teen and the teacher.
If you have a safe space for your teen to practice driving on, consider giving out incentives for their good behaviour, starting with so many minutes of drive time (with you in the passenger seat, of course). This reward system has been very effective in many teens with ADHD, and a lot of parents find that it works just as well with behind-the-wheel time, too.
Talk About Their Experiences
It’s important to talk to your child about his experience when he’s in the car. Open up a dialogue about whether he was distracted and what specifically made him feel that way. This is a great way to get your child to take ownership of his driving skills, as well as to learn some ways to avoid being distracted when he’s behind the wheel.
Make the Rules Clear
It’s important to set clear rules for your child’s driving, especially if they want to get a learner’s permit, which you’ll need to sign for. This gives you a measure of control over when and how they obtain the permit, but you’ll still need to set boundaries. These should include only driving when a parent or adult is in the car and only driving so far from home or for so many miles.
The same should go for when your child gets his license, as well. These rules might include a curfew, limiting the number of passengers he takes on, not driving at night, only using the car to go back and forth to school and work, and maintenance of the car, as well as putting gas in it.
You might consider using a device like HUM, which plugs into your car and provides — through a smartphone app — information about your vehicle, such as how many miles it’s being driven and where. This is a great way to stay on top of your child’s actions when you’re not with him.
Talk about Safety
While some safety rules are a given – always wear a seatbelt, for instance – it’s still important to talk about them and make sure your child understands what the consequences are for not following them. This includes driving under the influence and texting while driving, which is illegal in many states. If music helps your child concentrate, encourage it in the car, but limit it to one CD or make a playlist on an MP3 player that can be put on and won’t need adjusting during the ride. This can eliminate distractions and help your child feel more in control.
Support Your Child as They Learn
Remember that car safety begins at home. Talk to your child openly and respectfully about what a huge responsibility it is to drive a car and help him understand what they’re taking on. With some practice and honest conversations, your child will be prepared to take to the roads in no time.