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How to survive teaching your teenager how to drive

How to survive teaching your teenager how to drive

Teaching a teen how to drive is not for the faint hearted. Here are a few pointers to help you make it through.

Walk the talk

If you want to teach your teen, then you have to model good driving, because ultimately kids watch what you do and learn from that. 

So if your driving habits have got a bit lazy or you’re not up to date with the latest road rules in your state or territory, this is a great opportunity to brush up, because rest assured, they’ll be pointing out your errors soon enough. 

Do some driver knowledge test quizes here.

Have a game plan

Have structure in your driver teaching so that you have an idea of what you are trying to achieve in each lesson.

Create a checklist that starts with the basics (things that you don’t give a second thought to), like adjusting the seat and rear vision mirrors, and getting familiar with the dashboard and layout of the controls.

There’s no need to be in a rush to introduce too much too quickly - your teen has 120 hours - so take it slowly, and get the basics sorted first.

Get support

Don’t underestimate how stressful teaching a teen to drive can be.

Owen, dad to a teen learner from the Blue Mountains, echoes the experience of many parents.

“I spent the first few lessons freaking out that my daughter was going to side swipe a parked car – she had no road sense at all at the start and I had a new car – I think I held my breath for an hour”.

If it gets too much, enlist the help of other family members or friends to take turns in the car with your teen driver.

It’s also a good idea to pay for some driving lessons and let a professional take the strain.

NRMA safer driving school offers a free 60 minute driving lesson for both the driver and their parent/supervisor. To find out more and to book, check out keys2drive

Stay cool and calm

NSW P-plater, 18 year old Callan, says learning to drive with his mum was great but seeing her keep pressing the imaginary brake was not helpful.

“She had to learn to be very patient with me and understand that I couldn’t respond to situations as fast as she could.

I know it was scary for her, but her being so tense made it hard for me to relax.”

Teaching tips

Make the learner driver’s practice less fraught and more effective by:

  • Starting in very quiet places such as empty car parks.
  • Encouraging a heightened sense of alertness.
  • Staying focused while your teen is driving - don’t be tempted to take a call or text.
  • Stay away from negative comments such as, ‘you’re always in too much of a hurry’ or ‘you never listen’. Find ways to communicate that are positive and affirmative, and build confidence. Always point out what they’ve done right.
  • Keep an accurate log-book. Don’t be tempted to fudge the hours so you have less time in the car.


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