5 Tips for Teaching Teens to Drive

Your young, inexperienced drivers may say they have got it figured out, but these are still the formative years for overall driving attitudes and habits. The better you instruct them, the better they will do on the driver’s exam and the happier and safer they’ll be on the road. Here are five crucial tips for teaching teens how to drive.

No Smartphones

If your teens aren’t aware of the risks of texting or calling while at the wheel, help establish this by making it a regular thing to check. Have doors shut, seat belts on, phones stored nearby but not in hand, etc. These are small things but incredibly important. You should have similar policies on messy or complicated food.

Stay Cool

It is important to get your teen comfortable with driving, so encourage him or her to take a deep breath and relax before your teen starts driving. It’s not just for inner peace, either, because relaxed muscles have a better reaction time to sudden threats. A tense and nervous driver might appear more alert, but it’s an easy way to make the teaching riskier and less likely to stick.

Do Isolated Tests

While it’s good to teach your teen how to drive in ordinary road situations, such as highway on-ramps or city traffic stops, a few tests in an empty paved area are good practice as well. Without the pressure of being seen, your young driver can do hard brake slams, get a feel for the braking potential and how the ABS feels, and practice complex parking tasks.

Three and Nine

For a long time, the conventional wisdom was that for proper steering, the driver’s hands had to be on “ten and two,” referring to the hands of a clock. However, new research indicates the positions of three and nine, spread to the center edges, are the more comfortable positions. Have your teen try both and let him or her stick to whichever feels right. The wider arm position of “three and nine” will enable more turning with less effort, which will suit larger, less nimble vehicles the best.

Don’t Focus on Negatives

Negative feedback sticks in people’s minds much more than positive feedback, and for a hormonal teenager, this issue can be magnified. If your teen doesn’t know his or her strengths and weaknesses, there is no foundation to your teen’s learning. Ignore small mistakes and slip-ups within reason, and let them know what they’re doing right, especially if it’s not something you didn’t specifically tell them to do. This is a learning experience, so set the tone and encourage learning as best you can.
Teens have a lot of studying to do as it is, but if you follow these tips, each driving session should be quick, painless, and full of useful information that will prepare them for the official license test. The accident rate among teens continues to drop slowly, so stay confident and you’ll be surprised by how fast they pick up the skills.

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