parents

This mum is about to teach her daughter to drive. Any tips?

“When it came time for me to learn how to drive, it was, shall we say, difficult.”

My family didn’t own a car when I was growing up, so when it came time for me to learn how to drive at the age of 17, it was an extremely difficult concept for me to grasp. I just had NO idea, let alone driving tips passed down to me.

I didn’t have the first clue about clutches or brakes or indicators or well, anything really. I mean, I would still marvel at the retractable seatbelt when I first started getting into my friend’s cars. It sounds like I grew up in 1921 but I didn’t. We were just one of those families that didn’t own a car.

 Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by Nissan. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in her own words.

So when it came time for me to learn how to drive, it was, shall we say, difficult. The only person in my family that was available to teach me at the time was my brother. And let’s just say he wasn’t nor is he still, known for his patience.  So instead, I had, and I do not exaggerate here, 52 driving lessons with an instructor. 52! I spent nearly as much money learning how to drive as I did on my first car.

Now days of course, there is a totally different system. 120 hours must be spent driving with someone supervising, a record kept to validate this and more years spent on your P-Plates than ever before.  This is only a good thing as I can honestly say that I still had no idea what I was doing when I passed my driving test on my first try, despite the fact that I went  through a red light and ran up the gutter at the RTA. Yet, there I was, free to drive the mean streets of the Gold Coast with absolutely no solo driving skills whatsoever. How I made it through that first year alive is still a mystery to me. And I certainly do NOT want my daughter who although is at this stage still only 14, to be as useless as I was.

So now that I will have the responsibility of teaching my daughter how to drive, what driving tips and wisdom do I wish to impart? The fundamentals will of course, be uniform. They have to be.  The rules around indication, roundabout use, all the technical and necessary information will be taught by the authorities and then reinforced by us at home.   My number one priority is to ensure that my children will be safe on the road and just as important, safe for their fellow road users. So I will try to try and teach with the following driving tips in mind:

It’s all about building confidence because once they have self-belief, they will be safer drivers, and that is better for everyone on the road.

1.  Shouting  will not teach a Child How to Drive.

A parent’s first reflex, especially when faced with possible death at the hands of a free wheeling teen in the driver’s seat is to yell. And to yell loudly. Ironically, a teenager’s first reaction is to do the exact opposite of what you are telling them when faced with aggression. I KNOW this won’t be easy, but I am really going to try not to shout. Or scream. Or generally raise my voice.

I will do my best to sternly, if necessary, tell her to calmly pull the car over and then explain to her what it is she did wrong. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I will want her to look up to me as a driver with wisdom, not a drill sergeant.

2.  Take them driving in a large, open, deserted car park

The ‘sink or swim’ policy does NOT work with a new driver. There is absolutely no advantage to taking your child onto the open free way and then expecting them not to freak out. They need a large area where they can do little damage and with little distraction. The little things can be learned this way. Braking, turning, indicating, using your mirrors, REVERSE parking, even just simply parking in a normal car park situation, something I see so many people with reversing cameras and all the bells and whistles STILL struggling with. It’s all about building confidence because once they have self-belief, they will be safer drivers, and that is better for everyone on the road.

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3.  Drive through the ‘Burbs’ before they hit the Highway

Obviously, they will need to know how to merge onto a free way and also learn how to stay OUT of the fast lane unless overtaking, but again, that is technical. More importantly, they need to negotiate the mean streets of suburbia. Where at any given moment, a toddler could amble out on to a road unsupervised or be faced with an errant cyclist.

Of course this kind of driving and training needs to be done with great care and caution and preferably not at the end of a school day.


4.  Keep them on their toes

When they have started to get the hang of driving, you’ll want to continuously test them, so they don’t get complacent. Obviously this doesn’t mean anything that is dangerous, but simply mixing it up. Instead of wearing the same path driving, take them to new places, new paths. Point out hazards they may not have thought about before (elderly person’s crossing etc). Different speed limits at school times.  Your main objective is to get them to think about what it will be like without you in the car.

The very best thing you can do for your teen is to teach them to drive in a safe, respectful and nurturing manner.

5.  Don’t make them drive “Your Way”

Remember that your method of driving isn’t perfect or necessarily the best way. I am the first one to admit this. We all cut corners. We all, and without exception, get verbally frustrated at other drivers when they drive like idiots. But do you really want to hear the following “Where did you f*&*^ing” well learn how to drive buddy?!” come out of  your son or daughter’s mouth?  Children, whether we like it or not, replicate our behaviour and our habits. This includes the good and the bad.  So even though they would have seen you seethe whilst driving, try to leave it out when you are teaching.

The best you can do to ensure that your child will be safe on the road is to ensure that:

* They are driving safely.
* They are driving the speed limit.
* They are wearing a seatbelt.
* They are aware of their surroundings.

Here’s the thing, no matter what you teach them, your teenager will end up with their license and drive the exact way that they want to, even if that means, at times, they are being unsafe. This doesn’t mean however that you can’t teach them to drive in a safe, respectful and nurturing manner.

What driving tips and advice would you give to a new or young driver?  And what about their parents?

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