Can I Teach My 13-Year-Old to Drive?

It’s tempting to want to teach your children to drive young. They are likely very excited about learning to drive and are asking you non stop to teach them. The answer really depends on what you mean by teaching. The exact details for every state are different but for 13-years-old no matter what state you are in the answer is clear.

You can not teach your 13-year-old to drive behind the wheel but there are skills you can begin to teach them before they are fully prepared for behind-the-wheel lessons when they can legally drive.

Teens may not learn to drive behind the wheel until they have their learners permit, which allows them to drive with many limitations.

Can I Teach My 13-Year-Old to Drive

How to Teach your 13-Year-Old to Drive

Just because your teen can’t actually sit behind the wheel, that does not mean they can’t start learning some of the fundamentals of driving a car. There are so many things they can learn before they even get behind the wheel for the first time.

Car/Driving Safety

The first and most important thing to teach our teens before they even touch the steering wheel is some of the basics of driving safety.

  • First, explain to your 13-year-old where the airbags are in the car and how they protect them in the event of an accident.
  • Explain to them where the emergency breaks are and how they can help them get out of difficult situations in which the car’s foot breaks are not enough to stop the vehicle.
  • Obviously, a seatbelt should be worn at all times.
  • Discuss the dangers of being distracted behind the wheel. Especially when it comes to teens, many of them are glued to their phones. Make it clear to them that by texting and driving they are not just putting their own life at risk but everyone else’s life on the road also.
  • Walk them through what to do if the car stall or stops on the road. It is guaranteed going to happen to them at one point in time and they better be prepared.

These are just a handful out of many safety details you should be discussed with your teen. As you drive with them, if any other driving safety details come to mind, be sure to share it with them.

Traffic Laws

Traffic laws are what keep the street organized. Your teen is going to have to learn them eventually for their learner’s permit but it does not hurt to get a head start now.

Most traffic laws are pretty basic but others require a deeper understanding of the rules. Especially for rules in which the situation does not happen as often be sure to point these out to your teen when driving together.

Things like:

  • How to operate if a traffic light is out of function.
  • How far back to stay when an ambulance is in front of them with the lights on.
  • How to react when being pulled over by a police officer.
  • What to do if they see or notice someone is driving recklessly.

Key Car Functions

This is also a great time to start explaining to them some of the basic functions of the car. There are many things we do automatically that are completely foreign to them.

For example, when I started driving, I had no idea that the car moved once it was put it drive. I thought you had to actually push the gas for the car to drive. So I sat in the driver’s seat my first time, put the car in drive, and slapped the gas peddle. Needless to say, my mailbox did not survive the encounter.

A great way to do this is to sit in the car with them and go on a drive. Be sure to verbalize everything before you do it. Before you release the parking brake or put the car in drive, be sure you verbalize every activity before you do it.

Managing Emotions

If you’ve spent any time on the road at all then you know how emotional some drivers can get. We’ve all been in a situation where either we are someone else on the road gets really mad and starts driving like a crazy person. It’s so common we even came up with a name for it, road rage.

Being able to control your emotions while driving is an important skill all new drivers need to learn early. Make sure to teach your 13-year-old to stay calm even when other drivers around them are driving recklessly.

Car Maintenance and Responsibility

Cars are not easy to maintain. But if a car is not maintained properly it can be dangerous to drive on the road. Basic maintenance is important for all drivers to be aware of.

Take your child with you to the mechanic for common repairs. Explain to them how often the oil needs to be changed and how often the tires need to be realigned. Be sure to instill the importance of proper car maintenance in your teen.

For when your teen is ready to get behind the wheel, check out this video on being prepared.

Teaching Your Teen to Drive FAQ

Here are some common questions that parents might have about teaching their 13-year-old to drive.

When can my teen start driving?

Different states have different laws. Most states do not allow a teen to get their learners permit until they are 15. Once your teen has their learns permit they can start driving with very strict limits (such as an experienced driver needs to be sitting next to them at all times).

You can see the exact age your teenager can start driving at

What are the limitation of a learners permit?

Again depending on your state the answer to the questions differs. Use this site as a guide to your specific state’s laws.

What are the best places to teach my teen to drive?

When your teen is still early to driving, you want a wide-open space to teach them the fundamental of actually driving behind the wheel. I recommend starting in an empty school or church parking lot. Have them get used to the gas and breaks as well as making left and right turns. This is also a great opportunity for them to work on their parking and U-turns.

As your teen becomes more familiar with the workings of a car, it’s time to take them to the open road. Start off in residential streets they are familiar driving on before heading to larger streets with lots of other cars.

Before their practical driving test, take your teen to practice around the area they are going to take their test. By knowing the area, they will have a huge advantage during the exam.

What are the best car for teen drivers?

The number one most important detail in the car your teen is going to drive is saftey. Get a vehicle that is known for it’s saftey features. This car does not have to break the bank. Most Japenese cars such as Toyotas and Hondas will do the trick.

Even though they may want it, try to avoid getting them a car with a significant amount of horsepower, that’s just a recipe for disaster.