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How To Teach Your Teenager to Drive

July 19, 2018

Learning to drive is a major step in a young person’s life. Hopefully you have modeled safe and effective driving habits throughout your child’s life. As the time nears to teach them to drive, eliminate distractions (phone, radio, etc.), and explain why and when you are executing good driving maneuvers. When your teenager is ready to take the wheel for driving lessons, follow these tips to make the process as smooth and effective as possible for both of you:

Before Driving:
  • Show your student how to prepare the car and themselves for driving, then watch them do it. Fasten seatbelts, adjust mirrors, and test lights, windshield wipers, hazard lights, and turn signals without having to look for the controls.
  • Encourage your student and explain that you will only interfere if a situation presents danger or if they become overwhelmed, in which case they will simply pull over safely and you will finish the drive.
While Driving:
  • Stay relaxed and project calmness and confidence. Your demeanor will set the tone during the session. Anxiety hinders effective learning, so help the student by maintaining your composure.
  • Choose a route and explain it to the student. Start with a loop that will take twenty minutes to drive, and build to longer trips as everyone becomes more comfortable and confident. Target your route to specific road types, starting with easy quiet streets and building to highways and areas with more traffic and obstacles to negotiate.
  • Anticipate your student’s next move so you know it’s safe before they attempt it. For example, before moving to the right lane on a highway, check your mirror and turn your head to ensure a clear path. A moment later, when the driver checks their mirrors, turns on the indicator, and turns their head to check for vehicles, you can remain still instead of distracting the driver.      
After Driving:
  • Recap the session right away. If everyone can manage to remain in the vehicle together, discuss good and bad moments from the drive. If the drive was stressful, take a moment and reconvene in a comfortable setting. Give context and explain why specific maneuvers were executed well, and which need to be improved. Be open and honest, your teenager will listen. Evaluate your performance as a teacher also, and invite the student to praise and criticize you. Discuss and plan your next session and route.

We hope these tips will diminish the anxiety and stress involved with teaching your teenager to drive, and make the experience informative, helpful, and (possibly) even fun. Good luck!

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