Teaching your teen to drive can be equal parts exciting and daunting. Whether it’s your first time teaching someone to drive or you’ve had a go at it before, going into it prepared can help you and your teen have a better experience.
Check out our tips below to get started.
Tips for teaching a teen to drive
When it comes to driving, everyone’s learning experience is different. It’s important to cater the learning experience to your child and their needs.
Refresh your driving knowledge
After more than 20 years driving, you might think you can do it in your sleep, but it’s important to freshen up on your driving and road safety knowledge before you start teaching your teenager.
Read through the Road Users Handbook and car manual to scrub up on the rules. That way you can be more confident that you’re not going to pass on bad habits to the new driver. You might even want to take a paid lesson yourself, or sit in on one with your child.
Make a plan
It’s a good idea to write a checklist of things you want to cover with your child during the driving lessons. That way you won’t forget anything important.
For example, your list could include parallel parking, how to do a U turn, the importance of seatbelts, driving in school zones, driving on the freeway etc.
As well as practical tasks, don’t forget to include theoretical things on the list for road safety and basic car knowledge.
Consider starting with a paid lesson
If you have the budget and aren’t keen on teaching your child to drive yourself, you might want to put them in the hands of a professional until they're proficient.
If you plan on teaching your child yourself, it can still be helpful to send them to a few paid lessons. When they first start, a paid lesson can help teen drivers develop safe driving habits from the get go.
When they’re closer to taking their practical test, a paid lesson can help calm their nerves and give them practice driving with a stranger in the passenger seat.
Don’t rush, be patient
When you first get behind the wheel it can be quite scary to get on the road with other cars. Don’t push your child too far too fast.
Start in a parking lot before taking them on quiet streets and then busier roads. This way you can build up their confidence bit by bit.
Remember that you may have to go over things more than once. New drivers have to take in a lot of information in one go, and they may not retain everything. The best way to help young drivers feel confident is to keep practicing things over and over.
If you find yourself or your child is getting frustrated, try and have shorter, more frequent lessons than long ones. Take a deep breath when you need to and do something nice together away from the car to refill the relationship tank.
Some adolescents will be very excited to get in the driver's seat, while others may find it challenging and want to give up. It’s important to adjust to their individual needs.
For those who want to give up, take it slow with them and give them lots of positive reinforcement. Having their driver's license in the future will be extremely valuable, so keep nudging them gently to stick with it.
Give clear, careful directions
Avoid giving directions at the last minute. Instead, give your child lots of warning. For example, tell them that you’ll be taking right at the roundabout long before you enter the roundabout.
Try to maintain a calm, even tone when you’re speaking, and don’t get upset if they get the directions wrong or forget what you said. Simply redirect them again.
Remember to teach theory
Don’t spend all your time in the car teaching practical things. You should also spend time talking to your teen about car safety and how to look after a car.
Show them how to check the oil and top up the brake fluid. Explain the importance of not using your phone while driving and go over tips for driving on country roads.
Check your car insurance is up to date
Most car insurance policies cover a driver with a learner's permit who is being taught by their parents, but you should check with your insurance company rather than just assume. If you don’t have car insurance, or just a basic cover, consider upgrading before you start teaching your child.
What’s the best car to learn to drive in?
The best cars for teaching a teen to drive in are smaller cars that are easy to maneuver and safe to drive. When looking for a car for your teen to learn in, check the safety ratings and the safety features for better peace of mind.
We highly recommend the Mazda 2 for teens as it is a smaller car that’s easy to handle – great for learning to park. It comes with a range of advanced safety features too, including Lane-keep Assist System and Smart City brake support with pedestrian detection.
The Mazda 6 is also a great car to learn to drive in as it’s very sturdy on the road and offers an excellent driving experience. It also comes with advanced safety features standard across the range.
Get in touch with Melville Mazda to book a test drive today!