Teaching Your Teenager How to Drive: 9 Effective Tips & More


    Teaching your kids how to drive can be super scary for parents. They worry a lot about letting their teens drive the family car, which is both pricey and risky. If you’re about to teach your first teenager how to drive or hoping for a smoother experience this time around, there are some important things to keep in mind. So, in this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know to learn how to teach your teen child to drive.

    What to Know and Expect

    Teaching your teen to drive? Here are some simple tips for success:

    1. Give clear directions ahead of time, like saying, “Turn left in the next block.”
    2. Stay alert and watch all sides of the car.
    3. Instead of scolding, ask questions to raise awareness, like, “What’s the speed limit here?”
    4. Let your teen take the lead when they’re ready; don’t rush them.
    5. Plan your driving lessons in advance and communicate what skills you’ll work on.
    6. Be a supportive coach, not a critic, and praise good driving.
    7. Lead by example by driving safely yourself.
    8. Begin practicing during the day and in good weather.
    9. Start in empty lots, then progress to quiet streets, and finally to busier roads.

    Here’s a pro tip: It’s not about how long each driving session lasts, but how often you hit the road with your teen. Start with short drives, like 15 to 20 minutes, then increase as they get more confident.

    Essential Skills Your Teen Needs to Learn

    Before you can learn how to teach your kid to drive, you must ensure they have the necessary skills. Here’s a simple checklist for teaching your teen to drive:

    Taking Care of the Car

    • Checking fluids
    • Keeping the car clean
    • Understanding dashboard lights
    • Filling up with fuel
    • Adjusting mirrors
    • Buckling up and understanding airbags
    • Checking tires and inflating them properly

    Basic Driving

    • Staying focused and avoiding distractions
    • Reversing safely
    • Braking smoothly
    • Steering control
    • Making safe turns
    • Shifting gears (if applicable)
    • Signaling to other drivers

    Interacting with Traffic

    • Navigating intersections
    • Learning defensive driving techniques
    • Keeping a safe distance from other cars
    • Making lane changes safely
    • Practicing turns in tight spots
    • Mastering parking techniques (90-degree, angle, and parallel)

    Advanced Skills

    • Driving in challenging weather conditions
    • Handling freeway driving
    • Driving at night
    • Towing safely

    Emergency Situations

    • Changing a flat tire
    • Knowing what to do near downed power lines
    • Driving in high wind
    • Dealing with accidents, if they happen

    Five Stages of Learning How to Drive

    Here are five simple steps to guide your teen’s driving journey and help them become a safe driver. Make sure your teen masters each skill before moving on to the next stage. It might take a few driving sessions for them to get there. Don’t rush things.

    Stage 1: Knowing All About the Vehicle

    In this stage, your teen learns the basics of their car. They’ll read the manual and practice hands-on skills. By the end, they should know how to:

    • Change a flat tire
    • Fasten seat belts
    • Fuel up, check oil, and inflate tires
    • React in case of an accident
    • Start and stop the engine
    • Use headlights, parking lights, and wipers
    • Understand dashboard lights

    Stage 2: The Basic Skills

    During this stage, your teen will practice controlling the car’s movements, often in an empty parking lot. By the end, they should be able to:

    • Safely back up in a straight line
    • Make safe left and right turns with signals
    • Shift gears if driving a manual
    • Be aware of their surroundings
    • Stop the car smoothly

    Stage 3: Interaction with Other Drivers + Distractions

    During this stage, your teen will practice driving safely around other vehicles, parked cars, and pedestrians. They’ll start on quiet streets and progress to busier ones.

    By the end of this stage, your teen should be able to:

    • Drive courteously
    • Keep a safe distance from other vehicles
    • Change lanes smoothly and safely
    • Navigate intersections safely, including those with signals, stops, and no controls
    • Follow speed limits and traffic signs
    • Cross railroad tracks safely
    • Use mirrors and check blind spots

    Stage 4: Parking and Turns

    While driving is one thing, parking can be tricky, especially for teens. Most accidents happen when parking. They’ll practice in empty lots and on quiet streets.

    By the end of this stage, your teen should be able to:

    • Make a safe three-point turn
    • Make a safe U-turn
    • Park safely uphill and downhill
    • Parallel park safely
    • Park in a 90-degree space safely
    • Park in a diagonal space safely

    Stage 5: Advanced Skills

    This stage is crucial, but it’s advanced and builds on skills from earlier stages. Make sure your teen has mastered those first. By the end of Stage 5, they should be able to:

    • Drive safely at night
    • Drive safely in ice, snow, and rain
    • Navigate freeways safely, including merging, changing lanes, and keeping a safe distance from other cars

    Being a Responsible Driver Must be Taught

    While teaching your teen to drive, talk about the responsibilities of being a driver:

    • Car maintenance: If something seems off with the car, it needs to be checked.
    • Avoid distractions: Discuss the dangers of using phones while driving.
    • Share costs: Have your teen pitch in for gas, oil changes, and insurance.
    • Follow laws: Understand and obey traffic rules and any restrictions on their permit.
    • Keep passengers safe: Ensure everyone wears seat belts and behaves in the car.
    • Watch out for pedestrians: Drive slowly in neighborhoods and school zones.
    • Help others: Teach your teen to assist in accidents and drive courteously.

    Teach Your Teenager to Drive Safely and with Confidence

    Teaching your teen to drive can be scary for parents, but if you plan ahead, focus on one skill at a time, and stay patient with your teenager, you can really help them become a better driver both now and in the long run.