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How to Teach Your Teen How to Drive

Keep your teen safe by teaching them proper driving skills.

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How to Teach Your Teen How to Drive: Tour the Car

Sure, you’ve spent years in the car with your child driving to and from activities but as they approach driver’s education time to gain their learner’s permit you can help ease the process by taking a few preliminary steps before they get behind the wheel for the first time. One of the best things to do is to start by giving them a tour of the vehicle. They likely won’t be familiar with all of the features of a car, so it’s a good idea to have them test things out like the turn signal, windshield wipers, gear shifter, headlights, and gas and trunk buttons. Have them learn how to adjust the seat and mirrors, located the emergency lights and the emergency brake. Point out what different warning lights mean and what they should do about it when one comes on. Be sure to teach your teen driver these car maintenance basics.

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Father instructing his son on driving.pixelheadphoto digitalskillet/Shutterstock

How to Teach Your Teen How to Drive: Locate Safety and Emergency Equipment

Following the tour it’s a good idea to acquaint them with important safety features and emergency equipment. Be sure to point out where the spare tire is located and teach them how to change a tire. They’ll need to know how to properly use a jack and know where the jumper cables are located. They’ll need to know how to use the jumper cables in case of a dead battery, too. If you have roadside assistance, make sure they have that information with them at all times. Point out where to keep insurance cards in the vehicle as well. Make sure your new drive knows to never do any of these 13 things to the car.

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Teenager learning to driveAlexander Raths/Shutterstock

How to Teach Your Teen How to Drive: Find a Parking Lot for Practice

Once they’ve secured their learner’s permit, start slow. It might be a good idea to find an empty parking lot to let them get behind the wheel and get a feel of the vehicle. Practice turning and backing up. Later on you can make it more challenging like pulling into and out of parking spots. Keep the radio off during this time to establish good driving habits at the start. And make sure they practice scanning for potential hazards along the way. Make sure your teen driver doesn’t do any of these things in the car.

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Teenage-girl-checks-her-driver-side-mirror-while-father-watches-in-carLisa F. Young/Shutterstock

How to Teach Your Teen How to Drive: Start on Residential Streets

After you have completed trial runs in a parking lot, it’s time to get out on the road. Start by driving on residential roads, it’ll provide your teen the opportunity to drive on roads in a low stress situation with the possibility of other cars on the road. It’s a good time to teach them safe following distances and how to properly use car mirrors. Plus, pulling up to stop signs will provide the opportunity to learn how to ease into braking. Applying the right amount of force on the pedals can take some time for new drivers to comprehend. Plus, it’ll save you from possible neck and back pain from sudden braking. Be prepared for these scary driving scenarios and know what to do.

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How to Teach Your Teen How to Drive: Introduce More Diving Scenarios

As you start practicing on residential streets, be sure to remind your teen driver about proper traffic etiquette — like knowing who has the right of way if two vehicles stop at a stop sign at the same time. You might want to introduce a merging situation so they’ll learn how to react. Be sure to find different situations like driving through school zones, so your child knows how to respond when they encounter them. You should also go over how to respond when emergency vehicles approach and how to react if they get pulled over by law enforcement. Do you remember the questions from your driver’s test? See how’d you do and answer questions from the driver’s exam.

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Teenage-girl-fastens-her-seat-belt-in-a-car-next-to-her-motherLisa F. Young/Shutterstock

How to Teach Your Teen How to Drive: Head to the Highway

Once you feel comfortable and your child feels comfortable, venture out to the highway to practice driving at faster speeds. You might want to ease them into it by driving down county roads with higher speed limits first. There are several important lessons to be learned with highway driving that can’t be explained in other situations, like identifying blind spots and defensive driving. Many people rely on GPS navigation for directions but it’s important to teach your child how to identify exits as well as how interstate numbers work, like odd numbers are reserved for roads that run north and south while even numbered roads indicate roads that run east and west. Practice moving over in lanes for stalled vehicles on the shoulder and how to move over for faster traffic. Be sure to teach them the dangers of passing someone in the right hand lane, too. You’ll be able to teach them better on how to maintain a safe following distance and how braking on the highway differs from slower roads. These are 10 traffic rules that everyone forgets.

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Teenage-girl-receives-instructions-while-driving-a-car-from-a-man-in-the-passenger-seatALPA PROD/Shutterstock

How to Teach Your Teen How to Drive: Know the Road Conditions

Other factors to be aware of include: knowing how to approach tolls, driving in wet, snowy and icy road conditions. Be aware of how to deal with fog and teach your child how to work window defrosters so their vision doesn’t become impaired. It’s also important to teach them about safety rules like driving with their headlights on in rainy or foggy conditions. They should learn how to properly use their high beam headlights, too. Find out what to do in any number of driving scenarios with these tips.