Teaching Your Teen To Drive

Teaching Your Teen To Drive

Teaching Your Teen To Drive

The very idea of helping your children learn how to drive strikes fear into the hearts of many parents.  Worries about putting a teen behind the wheel of one of the family's most expensive and dangerous possessions are real and tangible. 


You've probably taught your child to do just about everything.  From walking to tying their shoelaces, they rely on parents to take the lead and show them how it's done.  And done properly.

The same applies when it comes to driving.  If you are embarking on the process of teaching your first teen to drive, there are some things you should know about teaching your child to drive. 


It’s daunting to think about breaking down and explaining all of the judgment calls and assessments that go into everyday maneuvers such as merging or changing lanes.  Parents play a critical role in teaching their teens to drive and learn the nuances and complexities of driving.

teaching your teen to drive lesson

Opt for a paid lesson first.  If this is your first time teaching a teen to drive you might be just as nervous as them, although probably not as excited as they are.  It might be a good idea for someone else to teach them the basics before you try. 


Depending on the relationship you two have, one or both of you might not feel comfortable being in such a stressful situation. To combat this, pay for a professional driving instructor for their first lessons.  Once they have completed a lesson or two and have a little bit more confidence, then you can step in and take over.


Refresh your knowledge. Now, you might think that you are the most knowledgeable driver out there, which is great.  However, in order to teach someone to pass a test and also be competent and confident in their driving skills, you also need to know the answer to any question they might ask. 


While they are off on their first lesson with a professional instructor why don't you brush up on your own knowledge of road rules; the worst outcome is that you come away having learned something.


Manual or automatic. Some learners will know from the get-go that they want to learn in a manual while others will opt for an automatic.  It enhances the feeling of human and machine working in harmony and increases confidence.  


However, keep in mind that there are less things to think about, with an automatic and it requires less coordination.  Both of these are very good arguments for going the automatic route. Remember, you are trying to end up with a good confident driver, and also set your tennup fr success.  So unless it is mandator that our teen drive a manual car, don’t go there.


Don't rush but be consistent. Of course, your teen is going to be buzzing to jump in the drivers' seat and learn but the most important thing to remember when teaching (and learning) is that consistency is key.  If you have a bad lesson and they start to feel discouraged, reassure them that this is all part of the learning process and that there is no need to rush. 


Organizing to have a lesson once or twice a week will be just enough to keep them on track with their hours but also isn't overwhelming for you or them.

teaching your teen to drive emotions

Theory is important. Ensuring your teen knows all the road rules will not only give you peace of mind but also teach them valuable rules they'll need when you're not in the passenger seat. Over time it will become second nature to them.  


And don’t forget to be sure they understand why not to tail gate, as an example; not because you said so, but because physics says so; that a moving object going a certain speed takes a certain amount of time and distance to stop.  


Check your insurance. This is more for your safety - and your wallet - than anything else. If you haven't updated your insurance for a little while chances are it doesn't cover drivers under the age of 25. It's pretty simple though, just ask your insurance company to add it onto your existing account and you can rest easy knowing your teen is covered.


Pick the right roads. Start off with roads that don't have a lot of traffic, plenty of side streets to pull-in to if necessary and a reasonable speed limit for their ability.  It's vital to change it up though, taking a learner driver to the same area for each lesson will do nothing to prepare them for what driving is really like. Switch it up but keep it within their skill level.


Complete all the hours. Everyone has their excuses as to why they can't get all the hours done. I'm too busy. I have a deadline. I have to cook dinner.  Don't be one of those people!  


Use this time you have with your child to not only teach them a valuable life skill but also spend some quality time with them!  When else are you going to have them in one spot for more than 10 minutes?


Keep your emotions in check, and pay attention to theirs. Even if you think you’re being calm, your teen may not see it that way.  


Robert Foss, director emeritus of the Center for the Study of Young Drivers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill cites a study he co-authored that used in-vehicle video cameras to capture parent-teen interactions:  Some teens later described their parents as yelling at them even when they hadn’t raised their voices.


The best approach is one that strikes the right balance between support and control.  Set driving rules and monitor them in a supportive, non-controlling way. Your role as a driver's parent is to coach your teen through the basics of driving. Avoid talking down to your teen or getting upset. 


Start off in daylight and good weather. As your teen is developing their driving skills, try to focus on daytime driving and when road conditions are good.


Set a good example. Follow good driving practices when you drive with your teen as a passenger. If you try to beat the yellow light or make abrupt lane changes, so will your teen.


Start slow and build up. When you start out with your teen, go to an empty parking lot and spend a lot of time starting, stopping and turning. When the teen is comfortable there, move on to a quiet residential area with fewer cars.  The next move is onto streets with heavier traffic.

Be constantly aware. One of the hardest things about safe driving is being aware of your surroundings. That 360-degree awareness is not a skill which teens have yet mastered. You will need to be the one who watches on all four sides of the car.

teaching your teen to drive parking

Keep the lesson short. The number of times you drive with your teen is more important than the amount of time in each session.  In the beginning, limit your practice time to 15 to 20 minutes at a time. As your teen's confidence increases, you can extend practice times.


Focus on a wide range of skills and driving environments: Learning the fundamentals of how to operate a car, such as parking, turning and braking, generally comes fairly quickly.  


But beyond the basics, teens need higher-order skills that develop with ongoing practice, including scanning for potential hazards and developing general situational awareness so they can anticipate and respond appropriately.


Pedestrian safety: Teach your teen the importance of using slow speeds in residential areas and school zones and being aware of pedestrians who will be crossing the street.


Distracted driving: Whether or not the laws are strict on texting or using the cell phone while driving, discuss this with your teen and set a good example yourself.  The same goes for eating while driving, or for that matter, doing anything else while driving.

Financial responsibility: Have your teen assume some of the financial costs of driving, such as filling the tank, getting an oil change, or paying a share of the car insurance.

teaching your teen to drive mom and daughte

Teen Drivers Can Cause Accidents


Remember, though, that what’s required by law is only a baseline. The goal is to help teens develop a more intuitive understanding of driving. This doesn’t come from meeting a set number of hours of supervised driving but instead develops over time.


Tags: Teen Driving, Teaching Your Teen To Drive, Teenage drivers