As your child approaches that magic age when he or she takes a leap toward independence with the aid of an automobile, chances are that you as a parent start to become concerned. While you understand that time pauses for no one, it’s still a scary thing to think about your child driving and the implications of that fact.

You’ll no doubt scour the Internet for teen driving articles, tips, and facts, and teen car insurance suddenly becomes a high priority. The good news is that you’re not alone, and there’s plenty of excellent information out there to help you help your teen become a safe and responsible driver. Consider these five tips:

1)  Talk with your teen.

Safe teen driving is founded in education. The more your teen knows and understands, the better prepared he or she will be to handle the responsibility of a car. Share teen driving tips with your child and don’t hesitate to throw in a few statistics. While your child shouldn’t be overly fearful of a car, he or she should have enough healthy fear to instill respect for the vehicle and what it can do.

2)  Be a parent first and a friend second.

Most parents want their kids to view them as a friend and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, the safety and well-being of your teen driver is more important than your teen’s opinion of your “old fashioned” thinking. Establish clear, specifically defined rules about how you expect your teen to behave while driving, and then establish clear, non-negotiable consequences for breaking those rules.

3)  Teach your teen basic car maintenance.

Every driver should know how to change a tire, monitor tire pressure, and check the fluids. If you yourself don’t know, consider taking a class together with your teen. Give him or her the skills needed to deal with minor emergencies and equip your child with phone numbers and procedures to use in the event of more serious circumstances. Ask your teen if he or she has performed the necessary maintenance every time it’s due; by the time your child is grown, it will be second nature.
4)  Take a defensive driving class together.

Anyone who drives already knows it’s a scary world out there. Inattentive, reckless, and unskilled drivers are a danger to everyone on the road. Learning defensive techniques and when to use them could save your teen’s life one day. In addition, taking the course together creates a wonderful opportunity for quality time and bonding together—something that is difficult to come by at this age. Moreover, you’ll likely get a discount on your teen car insurance with a defensive driving certificate!

5)  “Trust your child…” said no teen parent, ever.

It is important to trust your teen driver to a degree, but trust does not have to equate to blind ignorance. Know where your teen is going and how fast he or she is getting there. Don’t hesitate to install a GPS tracking device if you feel it’s warranted. Your teen needs to prove he or she is responsible enough for this privilege, and any indication otherwise may mean you need to take the keys for a while.

How else are you going to know?