Tips for Teaching Your Teen Driver

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If your teen has a permit and is working toward getting a driver’s license, you’ll likely need to spend some time teaching her how to drive. Many states require teens with learner’s permits to log a certain number of supervised driving hours outside of driver’s education, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association, and that often means parents play the role of driving instructor.

Before you start teaching your teen to drive, it’s a good idea to brush up on your state’s requirements and prepare yourself to be a good teacher. Here are some things to consider when teaching your teen to drive.

Prepare to Teach Your Teen Driver

Before each lesson, choose a location and decide what skills your teen will practice, suggests For instance, you may want to find an empty parking lot where your teen can practice braking or turns. This may also be a good place to practice using anti-lock brakes if the pavement is wet. Allowing your teen to practice in lower risk areas may help prepare her for future experiences on main roads.

Remind your teen to constantly be on the watch for potential obstacles, such as other drivers, bicycles and pedestrians, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. Stress the importance of avoiding distractions by not using phones or eating while driving, too.

It’s also important to practice safe driving habits yourself, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says. In addition to helping yourself stay safe on the road, it’s a good idea to model good driving behavior for your teen when you’re the one behind the wheel.

Provide Feedback to Your Teen Driver

When your teen makes a mistake, use it as a teaching opportunity, suggests. Instruct your child to safely pull the car over, and then discuss what happened and how to prevent the mistake from happening again.

Rather than get upset at your teen driver, try making comments that help make her more aware of a mistake, the says. For example, you might ask your teen what the speed limit is instead of expressing fear that she’ll be ticketed for speeding. In addition, be sure to praise your teen when you notice improvements.

Set Your Own Rules of the Road

In addition to reviewing your state’s laws for teens learning to drive and reminding your teen of general laws, like your state’s seat belt requirements, you may want to establish additional rules, the NHTSA suggests. For instance, if your state does not restrict the number of passengers that can ride with a teen driver, you may want to establish your own rule. Clearly communicate any requirements you set with your teen and make sure they understand the consequences of breaking them, the NHTSA says. Consider putting your expectations for your teen in writing.

It takes a lot of practice for a teen to become a safe driver. By patiently coaching your child and providing consistent feedback, you can help your teen gain experience and become a better driver.

Originally published on June 23, 2009.

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