Parents play a key role in the learning and development of their teenage drivers. We encourage parents to become actively involved in their son or daughter’s driving education experience. Your involvement will not necessarily take a lot of time. However, you can provide them with the encouragement to learn about safety by offering helpful driving and safety suggestions; showing them unsafe driving conditions, whenever they exist; offering your own experiences that have made you a safer driver, and by allowing them to later drive with you as much as possible while helping them to improve their driving abilities.
The State of California requires that your teen have a minimum of 6 hours of driving practice with a driving school. Further, they require you to provide them with an additional 50 hours of practice in your own car of which 10 hours must be practiced at night.
It is our desire to work together with parents as a team to train your teen driver to give you and your student with the best possible training. We want to keep you abreast of the student’s progress and will be more than happy to collaborate with you during the training.
Here are some basics you may want to cover when coaching or training your teenager to drive:
- Practice in a vehicle with an automatic transmission because it is easier to control.
- Before starting the engine, have your new driver adjust the mirrors, seats and fasten the safety belt.
- Have your new driver show you where these controls are located and how they work: honk, wipers, signal, headlights, heater and defroster, parking brake and emergency flasher lights.
- Progress slowly with acceleration and stopping smoothly.
- Practice only during the day and in quiet area during the first few lessons.
- Be familiar with the practice area and any hazards, signs, or signals that may be present.
- Take your teenager to an open parking lot area, like a shopping mall, or somewhere no cars can interfere. The last place to begin training a new teen driver is pedestrian streets/roads, regardless of how much traffic may be traveling at the time.
- While driving with your teen, be patient, sympathetic, and understanding and do not raise your voice. This will only make your teen nervous while at the wheel. Use a calm voice when correcting any mistakes.
- Give directions well in advance in a clear, calm voice. Allow your student enough time to follow them.
- Sit in a position where you can grab the steering wheel or step on the brake if necessary.
- Do not practice when your teenager becomes tense, upset or if the session becomes too stressful.
- Once your young teen driver demonstrates control over a few fundamental skills, allow him/her to take the next step and drive in low-traffic pedestrian streets and roads.
- When answering questions, do not use the word right use the word correct. The word right as a direction may be mistaken rather than an answer to a question.
- Avoid using the word
stop because it often panics a beginning driver. Say instead: “bring the car to a stop” or “slow down”.
- Do not expect him/her to KNOW things just because your teen has been a passenger in your cars for years. Your student driver needs to be told basic things like how to adjust mirrors, how to depress accelerator & brake.
- Humor helps to diffuse a tense situation when mistakes are made. For example, when the student overreacts, slamming the brake, responding with “oops, scrambled eggs!” gets the point across better than yelling “I told you not to do that!”
- Tell your new driver where you want something done before you say what you want done. For example, you should say,
“at the next corner, turn right”. If you say “turn right at the corner” your teenager may react before you complete your verbal instructions.
- Do not start night driving until your teen driver has mastered all driving skills during daylight.
- When your teen is ready to drive on the freeway, try to choose long on-ramps and off-ramps to practice entering and exiting the freeway.
- Encourage your teen to tell you what they are planning to do while he/she is driving. When you talk about the sessions afterwards, let your teen present his/her mistakes first. (Most common mistakes teen drivers make: they don’t slow down when the driving becomes more difficult, they have not had enough experience to drive defensively, poor roadway scanning techniques.)
- Tell your teen not to assume that other drivers will give him/her the right-of-way. Pull over to the right when you hear a siren. Do not pass a stopped school bus. Practice at your neighborhood’s most dangerous intersections. Let the car entering the highway go first.
- Make sure they keep their eyes moving (checking the mirrors every 6-8 seconds). Keep your eyes way ahead of them. Explain changing situations that you may see and make them aware of their environment. Alert them to children you may see playing near parked cars. Note construction ahead or changing speed limits in advance. Observe approaching traffic from the rear and alert them. Watch ahead for blind intersections. In other words, stay ahead of your teen driver.
- Tell your teen how proud you are of him or her for committing to driving responsibly. Your son or daughter will appreciate this positive recognition and also feel more compelled to stick to the promise you made to one another.
- Remind your child, “You mean the world to me and I would never want to see you or anyone else harmed because of reckless driving. I appreciate your taking this seriously and making a commitment to drive responsibly.”