Tips for Road Tripping with Young Drivers

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Taking a road trip with your teenage kids driving can be a daunting prospect. As a parent, you want to ensure they drive safely while also giving them independence. With some planning and common sense rules, road-tripping with young drivers can be rewarding for the whole family.

Read on for the best road trip tips to ensure a safe and fun holiday for the whole family.

Young driver
Young driver

Choose the Right Car

When your teen is first learning to drive, it's wise to avoid road trips in vehicles that are challenging to maneuver. Stick to sedan-style cars rather than 4WDs or vans which require more skill. Automatic cars are preferable to manuals for beginner drivers too. If possible, get them practicing locally in the car you plan to road trip in so they build confidence. Modern cars packed with safety features are ideal.

Map a Safe Route

Research your route together and aim for major highways over trickier rural backroads. Try to avoid driving at night when visibility is lower. Plan daily segments of 4-6 hours max with regular breaks to prevent fatigue. Consider routes with fewer road trains that can intimidate young drivers. Use a GPS navigator to alert upcoming hazards like school zones. Being well-prepared with maps will give you both peace of mind.

Set Clear Rules Upfront

Discuss expectations before departing and establish clear rules. Remind them of road rules like no mobile phones and always wearing seatbelts, as well as maintaining a 2-second gap between vehicles. Explain that you're there to coach, not criticize. Let them know that it's ok to pull over anytime they feel uncomfortable, as long as they do so safely. Clear rules provide a framework for them to build skills.

For more information, you can check out ROLLiN’s guide for beginner drivers to get a strong sense of what those first starting their driving journey need to do to stay safe.

Behind the wheel
Behind the wheel

Share the Driving

A road trip is tiring for any driver, especially a novice. Swap drivers at least every 2 hours and avoid marathon stints. Draw up a schedule taking advantage of times when they're most alert, such as morning time. Allow them to observe your driving so you can demonstrate good habits. Have an experienced driver accessible at all times. Never pressure them to push through fatigue.

Stay Nearby Overnight

Look for accommodation close to highways to avoid navigating tricky new areas at night. Seek out motels with easy parking that don't require difficult reversing maneuvers. Choose places with restaurants nearby so you aren't reliant on their night driving. Let them recharge with a good night's rest before hitting the road again.

Pack Properly

An organized, clutter-free car makes driving less stressful. Pack gear tightly with heavier items low down to improve vehicle stability. Use a non-slip mat under coolers and bags. Remove or secure loose items that may roll around and distract them while driving. Do a walk around checking doors and boots are shut properly. A tidy car with good visibility enhances safety.

Adjust Your Mindset

Suppress any nervous backseat driving tendencies! Have confidence in the training you've given them and avoid criticism. Be patient - their driving skills will improve each day. Praise them when they demonstrate good habits at the wheel. They'll remember the trip fondly instead of how stressed their parents were!

Practice Driving Beforehand

Get in some driving practice as a family before embarking on a big trip. Do some local drives on highways and unfamiliar routes. Have them drive at night and practice maneuvers like parking, reversing, turning, and roundabouts. Build up from short trips to longer drives as their confidence grows. This will reassure you both that they can handle different road conditions.

Load Up on Snacks and Stay Hydrated

Being hungry or thirsty can affect concentration so keep the car well stocked. Pack nutritious snacks like fresh fruit, mixed nuts, muesli bars and sandwiches. Have a cooler with water, juice, and sports drinks easily accessible. Schedule regular snacks and toilet stops to keep energy levels up.

Know Your Blind Spots

Take some time to familiarize young drivers with common blind spots around the car that are easy to miss when checking mirrors and over the shoulder. Hazards like cyclists, pedestrians, and merging cars can seem to appear from nowhere. Drive slowly together around other vehicles and get them to call out when anything disappears from view. This awareness saves lives.

With the right mentality, rules, and preparation, a road trip can be wonderful for young drivers. Following these tips will help install life-long safe driving habits while creating priceless memories. Maintain realistic expectations, share the workload, and ensure adequate rest. Most importantly, savor the adventure together! In no time they'll be an experienced road trip veteran like you.

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Michael Glass

Michael is the founder of Backpacker Travel. He also runs walking tours in San Francisco and is a freelance travel writer. Michael is extremely passionate about travel and loves to explore festivals around the world.

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