As parents, you hold the keys to your teen becoming a safe driver. Driver Ed Academy wants to help you with the 50 hours you are required to spend with your new driver. Learn how to train your teen with the proper skills to reduce the stress and risk associated with training a new driver. We'll help you identify bad driving behaviors which can increase your teen's chances of being in a crash.
Helping your teen to become a safer, more knowledgeable and experienced driver takes time and plenty of patience. With parents and guardians playing more of a role than ever before, read on for tips and advice for helping your teen become a safe and responsible driver.
We recommend that you develop a plan on what you want to accomplish before each lesson. Keep each lesson to no more than an hour, at least until your driver can perform all of the driving fundamentals. When it's possible, try to coordinate your sessions based on the driver training program your teen is currently enrolled in.
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Keep a log with date, time, and lesson accomplishments. You will need to account for 50 hours of supervised driver training. There is a form that the parent or guardian will need to sign to verify the completion of all 50 hours of training - this will also need to be notarized. This form is part of the temporary license packet provided by the Ohio Department of Public Safety.
Start with the basics - don't assume anything
Practice good driving habits - it's important that you project safe techniques to your household's newest driver
Avoid information overload by teaching too much too soon - after all, you have 50 hours
Develop a parent and teen driver contract - it is necessary to talk about and agree on each point. Some of the rules and responsibilities to consider include:
- Rules for using the car
- The importance of safety
- Guidelines for conduct during the practice sessions
- Driving ground rules, including the number of passengers, etc.
Your best bet would be to locate a vacant parking lot for the first lesson or two. Using an open area provides you with a comfort level and enables your new driver to get a feel for the vehicle and how it responds. You might want to drive to this designated location for the first lesson or so and then incorporate driving to the location into the practice time for your teen.
Be sure to provide simple and accurate instructions far enough in advance so that your driver understands and can prepare with ample response time. For example, "go to the next stop sign and turn left" is much easier to understand than "We'll want to head west when you get to the next stop sign."
Build upon experience. Start in no traffic (vacant parking lot), then light traffic, and finally heavy traffic. Start on two lane roads at low speeds before hitting multi-lane highways or the interstate with higher speed traffic. This is not only to help your new driver become familiar with the whole driving experience, but it also provides you with a chance to warm up to your new role as a driving teacher.
Provide solid cues, such as "let off the gas and begin to brake" instead of a panic-ridden version such as "Slow down! Slow down! And hit that brake before you hit something else!"
Stay calm, and try not to laugh at inappropriate times. New drivers are likely to make mistakes and are very sensitive to the additional parental demands that you're exerting.
Remain positive by starting and ending each session on a positive note. If you find yourself needing to correct mistakes, take notes and pull over to discuss them without yelling. Reinforce those actions that are good safety habits such as "I liked how you slowed up and looked both ways before proceeding at that railroad crossing," or "I'm glad that you slowed down and then stopped at that yellow light instead of trying to speed your way through it."
Get to know your mirrors and check blind spots. It might also be a good idea before each session to review what your teen driver is learning in his or her driver training course.
Practice starting and stopping at different speeds in a parking lot. Many newer vehicles have anti-lock braking systems which perform differently than power or standard brakes. Make sure you know what braking system your vehicle is equipped with and how to properly use them in all types of weather conditions.
The art of parking - angled, straight in, backing in, and parallel parking.
Review local and state traffic laws by asking your teen driver to go through them in traffic conditions such as:
• What to do when you see a yield sign
• How to approach an unloading school bus, etc.
• What to do when an emergency vehicle approaches
Drive on rural or lightly traveled roads. Avoid heavy residential areas at first - where kids and other distractions could impair the new driver's initial judgment and car handling. Keep to roads with traffic speeds lower than 45 mph until you and your new driver feel comfortable. This should take more than one lesson to master. Vary your traffic routes and build in more complex situations as you and your new driver are ready.
Practice scanning techniques in traffic situations. Your new driver should always be prepared for what's ahead, and knowing where the car will be 8-12 seconds from now - that's called scanning. This includes awareness of objects and other vehicles that are around the car too. Its purpose is to build a cushion of safety around your car so that you can react in ample time to changing situations and conditions.
Practice driving and stopping distances, as well as looking in all directions before proceeding at a stoplight or stop sign. Make sure your new driver understands the importance of these.
Have your teen plan a 30-minute road trip in light traffic - perhaps to a shopping center for parking experience. Add errands during your trips as you feel comfortable, including a trip to the gas station (perhaps your new driver can pump and pay for the gas).
Multiple lane highway driving situations - Make sure to review proper passing procedures, land changing, and merging traffic patterns. Only practice passing on 4-lane roads at this time.
City driving - Pick areas that provide different types of situations, speeds, and traffic flows. Practice left and right turns, parking on the street and then pulling into traffic, crossing busy intersections, school zones, center turn lane situations, one way street patterns, and both narrow and wide streets. This can be an exhausting experience for both parent and teen, so tackle this in several lessons. Try this at different times of the day so that your new driver understands how traffic conditions can vary. Add errands to break up the monotony or stress build-up.
Heading down the highway - When you feel your new driver is ready, it's time to add one of the most dreaded ingredients of driving - speed. Highway driving is extremely diverse, and once again requires several sessions. There are two-way rural highways, multi-lane highways, expressways, and interstates. Incorporate them all through the help of a state or local map. One of these sessions should include a long highway drive, perhaps to visit a relative or friend, or even tied into a family vacation. Just don't plan a trip to Florida simply to meet the 50-hour requirement. Addressing the proper methods of entering and exiting a highway and the importance of maintaining the speed limit are also suggested.
After dark - Set the stage by covering how to drive within your headlights, how to turn on low and high beams and when to use them, and the proper setting adjustment of the rearview mirror. Night vision adjustments might not come easy. Suggest that your driver look slightly to the right side of the road if oncoming car lights seem too bright. Since you will have at least 10 hours of nighttime driving with your teen, it's suggested that you add in various weather and road conditions during this time as you both become more comfortable.
Foul weather driving - Only when your teen driver becomes experienced should you start to practice driving in such conditions as heavy rain, fog, snow, and ice. Since it's almost like relearning how to drive, perhaps it's time to revisit that vacant parking lot where your lessons all began. Be sure to stress that under hazardous road conditions it's important to slow down, use windshield wipers, and have your headlights on. Occasionally checking the wear on tires and wiper blades should also be stressed. Also make sure you understand how to properly apply your brakes. For example, the way you engage anti-lock brakes differently on icy surfaces than you would using conventional brakes.
Tricky and treacherous driving situations - Driving in the hilly country can be fun, but also dangerous. There are a number of signs posted on winding roads that a new driver should become familiar with.
Handling emergencies and crashes - Unfortunately, the fact is that both of these situations do happen. Cover the procedures regarding what to do in case of a crash, the location of the insurance ID card in case the law enforcement asks to see it, and the location of the vehicle's emergency kit. Knowing how to change a flat tire might also come in handy.
General rules of the road - Lecturing is not a favorite pastime of either parents or teens, but the fact is that there are major dangers that should be emphasized regarding driving under the influence, including losing the right to drive. A tired driver can also pose a major danger. These points should also be covered in the parent and teen driver contract.