Learning to drive with a parent or mentor is a rite of passage for most teens, an important step towards reaching the freedom of the open road. In fact, it’s actually a requirement in most states that new teenage drivers log a certain number of hours of supervised driving before they can even apply for a license.
If you’re going to be teaching a driving newbie the rules of the road, these tips will help you and your student get the most out of your driving lessons.
Before you begin, decide what skills or concepts to focus on for the lesson. Start with the basics like stopping at a stop sign and making left-hand turns. Once the driver has mastered those, move on to more advanced skills like parallel parking.
Location Is Key
You’ll also want to consider where the lesson will take place. If this is the teen’s first time behind the wheel, an empty parking lot is the best place to start. TeenDriversSource.org has a great (free) guide for parents to download with a breakdown of what to practice as you and your driver work your way up from parking lots to residential roads to highways.
Choose Your Words Wisely
Getting behind the wheel of a car for the first time can be a nerve-wracking experience for teens. Reduce their stress by keeping the conversation positive. The Wall Street Journal advises parents not to make sweeping generalizations, like “you never listen,” when you’re giving feedback. Be specific and constructive. Also, avoid bringing up touchy subjects like poor grades that will cause distress.
Finally, the free DirectDrive app is an excellent tool to help teen drivers develop good driving habits. Log your “trip” during driving lessons and let the app tell you when the driver is braking too hard or fast. Getting feedback from an unbiased source like an app is helpful for both teacher and student. After lessons are over and your teen is driving on their own, consider having them sign a Parent-Teen Driving Agreement and using the DirectDrive app to monitor their driving habits so they can work to improve them like you practiced together.
We’d also suggest heading over to Teaching your Teen to Drive, it’s full of helpful hints if you’re mentoring a teen driver, and Prepping Young Drivers for the Road, a guide to the process of getting a new driver licensed. And when it comes to insuring your new teen driver, don’t forget that Direct Auto & Life Insurance offers a Good Student Discount in many states!
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