HOW TO TEACH A TEEN HOW TO DRIVE
Is your teenager ready to start driving? If so, you may feel overwhelmed by the idea of teaching your offspring to drive. Learning to operate a motor vehicle does not have to be stressful or overwhelming when you keep the following tips in mind.
Begin with the Basics
Take time to master the basics before letting your teenager behind the wheel. This should go beyond learning directions and street signs, and include such fundamentals as:
- Correct body mechanics, to include positioning hands at 9 and 3 o’clock on the steering wheel
- How to properly adjust mirrorsFocusing on the road and avoiding distractions
- You should also make sure your child is familiar with the vehicle. This includes the location of turn signals, windshield wipers, cruise control, heating, and cooling. Take a few moments to go over everything before getting started.
- Once your son or daughter has grasped these basics, he or she can then practice starting the vehicle and placing it in gear. Now you are ready to do some practice driving.
Poor road conditions, traffic, and bad weather can detract from the learning experience. As such, you should first practice in good weather and only during daytime hours.
Choose an open location such as an empty parking lot to start with. Practice pulling in and out of parking spaces and stopping behind solid lines. Set out a few cones and let your teenager try maneuvering around them.
From the parking lot, you can move to country roads with very little traffic. Next expand to uncrowded city streets and then the highway. Finally, let your child attempt some interstate driving.
Wait until your teen has mastered all driving conditions before taking the wheel at night or during a rainstorm. Take only short trips at first, and then gradually increase the distance as time goes on.
It’s important for adolescents to focus solely on learning to drive. This means your outings should be limited to only the fewest number of people possible. Pets and other family members need to stay home in the beginning. Make it clear that driving lessons are not a social activity, so no friends are permitted either.
Remember that new drivers have not yet mastered the art of scanning traffic or anticipating road conditions. Therefore, you should never assume that your child will observe all hazards or react to them appropriately. You’ll need to be that extra set of eyes on the road, especially in the beginning. That means you should also avoid distractions, to include the use of a cell phone.
Give Plenty of Warning
It naturally takes new drivers longer to respond. Consequently, you should provide plenty of advance warning when it comes to turns, lane changes, etc. Rather than saying “turn here”, tell your teen that you will be turning right in a block or so. In that way, you can avoid the sudden, jerky movements that could result in an accident.
Enforce Traffic Laws
It’s easy to excuse minor traffic infractions when there’s a new driver. While some mistakes are inevitable, it’s important not to cut your teenager too much slack. Insist on following traffic laws in the beginning and you stand a better chance of your teen following them later.
Some traffic laws you should be especially vigilant about enforcing include:
- Obeying the speed limit, and adjusting speed accordingly based on weather and traffic conditions
- Coming to a complete stop at all stoplights and stop signs
- Signaling all turns
- Stopping at all railroad crossings
- Leaving an adequate amount of space between your car and the one in front of you
- Passing only on the left, and only when there is a single or dotted yellow line
- Reacting to Emergencies
Sooner or later, everyone will encounter a roadside emergency. Provide guidance to ensure your teen is prepared for problems such as:
• Standing water on the roadway
• Snow, sleet, or ice
• Extreme fog
• A sudden, torrential downpour
• Debris in the road
Young drivers should also know how to handle minor car problems such as a flat tire or dead battery. Provide instructions on what to do in the event of an accident, including the right way to interact with other parties. Give guidance on how to act during a traffic stop or when encountering a police roadblock.
The Right Car for your Teen Driver
Teaching a teenager to drive is sometimes a harrowing experience. That doesn’t mean that finding the right vehicle for your child should be. Keep the above tips in mind and then visit our dealership when you are ready to purchase that new car or truck.