Tips for Parents Teaching Their Teens How to Drive

By: Staff Writer June 21, 2012
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The thought of your teen driving, just a couple years removed from middle school, is difficult to grasp. Rather than deny it, though, it's best to accept and do your best to teach your child sound driving skills.

To help with the process, consider the following.

Before Each Driver Training Session

  • Take time to map out a route, rather than randomly driving. Consider quiet side streets, avoiding busy thoroughfares. Inform your teen of the route as well.
  • Have an agenda of what road skills to work on before each drive begins. For example, you could practice left turns or maintaining proper distance.
  • Adjust the passenger side mirror so as to use it as your rearview mirror.
  • Remind yourself to stay calm and avoid raising your voice. You want the driving session to be a positive experience for your child.

Driver Training On the Road

  • Be sure to give your child advance warning on where to turn, or what you want them to do. Shouting, "Turn here!" at the last second denigrates the learning process and creates unneeded tension.
  • Keep talking to a minimum so as to not distract your child.
  • If a mistake is made don't wait until the driving session ends to explain. Instead have your teen pull over and explain the error.
  • Don't talk down or scold. Instruct in a calming tone. If you sense tension with your teen, end the driving session.
  • Be on the look out for potential hazards or dangers. Beginning drivers don't have scanning techniques down, usually focusing only on what's in front of them.
  • When starting, limit the first few driving sessions to 15 to 20 minutes. And then as your teen's driving confidence grows, gradually increase the sessions to 30 and then 40 minutes.
  • Retract your instruction if it goes against what your teen was taught in drivers education. This fosters confusion. Put your ego aside while keeping in mind that your teen's drivers ed teacher is a certified instructor, especially trained on how best to teach new drivers.

Home, After the Driver Training Session

  • Go over the entire session, explaining mistakes, but still accenting the positive.
  • Ask your teen to assess how he or she drove and what was learned.

Additional Teen Driver Tips

Don't forget to lead by example. Now that your teen is "driver-aware," practice sound driving habits when behind the wheel. Avoid racing through yellow signal lights, or passing when the center line is solid. Convey that owning a drivers license is a privilege that cannot be taken lightly.

Have you ever helped a teen driver practice driving? Do you have any tips to add?

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