OK here we go, as it’s time get out there and really learn how to drive a car!
First I would suggest taking “baby steps” in your approach to teaching them, don’t just jump out there on the main roads with your nervous as heck child.
To start out this long process find a nice/quiet big parking lot which you should be able to find such as a local church or office park. Begin with you (parent) driving your child to this location that ideally would be an early Saturday or Sunday morning with less traffic/distractions going on.
Beginning in this environment is a great way/area for them to understand how the car handles prior to venturing out on the main roads.
Alright now for the moment of truth where we (parent) actually become the teacher and like the first day of school we need to set the rules for this class and as a teacher you need to be prepared. First note should always be, do they have their learner’s license with them?
Next remind them that before even getting into the car they need to double check as a precaution that there are not any obstacles around/behind the car such as bikes, toys or even kids! Once inside the car the checklist begins:
- Adjust the driver’s seat — not too far up or back. You should be able to reach the gas/brake pedals easily and your arms/hands feel comfortable on steering wheel.
- Check that the steering wheel is set a good angle if not make adjustments.
- Next it’s time to adjust the inside rear view mirror so that you can easily glance at it with your eyes and not having to move your head to see what is behind you.
- Move on to checking for position of outside mirrors — drivers and passenger sides.
- One other thing is make sure the emergency brake is off before moving.
- Lastly and most importantly…PUT YOUR SEAT BELT ON! And if you have passengers advise them to do the same thing.
Starting the Car
Now that the checklist has been run through both you and your child are ready for that big moment of truth where they take control of the car and begin to learn how to operate/drive it.
Two small points to bring up prior to actually moving the car one is first the simple process of turning on the car/ignition. They need to understand that turning the key is a simple/quick act as when they hear car start up that they need to release the key/ignition or they will hear one ugly sound, they learn this skill very quickly.
Foot on the Break
Next and a very important step is they need to always have their foot on the brake when starting the car and before shifting the car into gear, whether it be drive or reverse! I am sure that when your child is reading the above points that they probably feel that it will take 5–10 minutes each time before they can even get going.
However this checklist that needs to be reviewed mentally/physically each time you set out to drive only takes on average 25 whole seconds so get over it please!
Driving First Steps
OK now is the big moment where they put the car into “drive” and are actually operating the car for the first time and what an experience it is! Starting out in an empty church or office parking lot should have everyone feeling somewhat relaxed and so have them gently apply pressure to the gas and start moving forward slowly.
Break & Gas Pedals
The first thing you need to teach them is to know where the gas and brakes are and how to best use them. Have them start out going 20–25 mph for a short stretch by applying the gas and then have them gently apply the brakes to get a feel for both of them as we discussed in last article. Have them drive up and down the parking rows and at this time also teach them how to make turns so they can get comfortable with how the steering wheel feels/operates.
This is also the time that you will teach them the age old trick of how to center the car in the middle of the lanes/road when they are driving. What they need to do while driving up and down the lanes in the parking lot is to look far ahead of them and position their eyes on the middle of the lane they are in and this will automatically/naturally position them right smack in the middle, like magic!
Their goal is to position the car in the middle of the lane in this case the parking lot lane or when out on actual roads will need them to be right between the center line/stripe of the road and the right side (shoulder) of road.
As they drive more and more this will become second nature to them but as you would imagine the most important goal while driving, staying in your lane and not others!
Nice and Slow
So now we want to allow them to slowly “learn” how to do the basics of operating a car and how to drive it properly before heading out onto the main roads. Remember again it’s important to take it easy on them as you are their teacher/coach/friend and parent and not the enemy shouting at them for every little thing they do wrong.
When you notice something they have done wrong have them stop and review what you saw and help them to correct it for the next time.
This environment is also the place you want to teach them how to back up and how the car reacts when going in reverse. Have them practice backing up by going 50–75 yards at a time by placing their right arm over the passenger top part of the seat and looking backwards to where they are going. Here they will get a feel for how things work while steering left and right while operating the brake and gas at the same time, doing this slowly not trying to set any land speed records.
They will need how to do this right for backing out of driveways, parking places etc.
During these early times of teaching them to drive in the parking lot that you have picked out, this is also the area you want to teach them how to properly park a car. There are three main types that they will need to learn before you set them loose on the main roads and they are parallel, angled and straight in parking styles.
I will go into detail on this in the next article so review that with your child prior to teaching this skill. I have no set time limit established for when they are ready to advance out onto the main roads so it is your call for when you feel they have mastered the basics of controlling and driving a car.
Graduating to Driving on Roads
The time could range from 2–3 days or more but when ready and staying with “baby steps” system you will want to have them advance to driving around your neighborhood first and them graduating to the main roads and lastly onto the interstates/highways, in this order.
Also all of this should first be done during daylight hours and only after completing all of the above should you then have them learn how to drive at night preferably after rush hour has ended and traffic is light.
The only other thing left is for them to get the feel for is driving in rainy conditions and once all this is done well it’s time to get them their official driving license when they reach the proper age.
Also please note that many states have extra requirements before a teenager is allowed to take their drivers license test so take a look at the links we have on our website for your particular state.
The balance of this blog is all the in’s and out’s that they will need to learn and be aware of that hopefully they will apply and remember when out in the real world so let’s get going!