Teaching Your Teen To Drive

When your teen learns how to drive, it's a big step them and you. As a parent, you want to ensure that your teen can safely and confidently navigate the responsibilities and potential dangers on the road. Before your teen can drive, however, they must earn their driver's permit and pass their driver's test. This process can sometime take months or years. 

Here's a quick guide to helping your teen ace their driving test:

Active Passenger

Most children are all too familiar with driving with their parent or parents. From cross country road trips to the drive from the hospital when your child was born, your teen is used to driving in the car with you. When they're learning to drive, however, they will need to be active passengers to help them learn the laws and skills needed to pass their driver's test.

Looking with Mirrors: conditioning your child to survey the road via your rearview and side mirrors will be required to pass their driver's test and is an important safety habit to learn. Try quizzing them in a variety of driving situations about the vehicles present on your right, left, and rear. At first your teen is likely to want to swivel their head to look directly at the traffic around your vehicle. However, as they become accustomed to canvassing the surrounding traffic with the mirrors, you start asking them if you're safe to change lanes or back up. Although you should always double-check yourself before making any driving maneuver, this exercise can help your teen use a vehicle's mirrors instinctually.

Looking for Laws: as your passenger, you have opportunity to quiz your teen about a host of driving laws and common "rules of the road." For instance, you can ask your teen if the driving maneuver made by another driver is legal or which driver has the right of way in a particular driving situation. It's important, however, to make sure that you're up to speed on the laws as well. Studying the laws yourself is the key to being the most effective teacher possible.

Open Practice

Driving is a skill that is often best learned by doing. The easiest way to give them time behind the wheel that's also safe is by allowing them to drive in a large, open space free of other traffic. Schools, stadiums, and large businesses (governmental building, corporate offices, etc.) are perfect spaces for your teen to test out a host of driving skills. Most of these spaces are completely empty most weekends and/or after 5 PM most days. When you give your teen open practice, consider the following exercises:

Staying Between the Lines: parking is often one of the most challenging driving skill for teens to learn. Using the parking lot's lines both horizontally and vertically can provide your teen with opportunities to practice parking.

Backing into Spaces: having your teen back into spaces will help them learn how to maneuver a vehicle safely when in reverse. Start by guiding them outside the car; move onto simply observing and providing feedback.

Parallel Parking: few things are likely to flummox your teen like parallel parking. Have them practice by aiming to fit between lines horizontally. Start with four or five spaces, working them down to two spaces (for a standard sedan) by the end of practice. You can also have them attempt to fit more parallel to the lines as they progress.

Many Point Turns: turning is another skill your teen must master to pass their driver's test. Have them practice 3-point turns, 5-point turns, and u-turns. Again you can use the parking lot's lines to guide their practice.