Most people associate driver's education as this turning point in a teenagers life. The truth is, its a turning point in their parents lives as well as becoming a parent instructor comes with both challenges and rewards.
Not all of us are natural educators. Knowing how to do something doesn't necessarily mean you know how to teach someone what you know. However your teen will spend 50-100 hours in the car with you so its important that you are properly trained on how to teach them. At EDI we understand your hesitation, concern and anxiety during this phase and we are here to help.
Our parent session is the final half of the last classroom session. During this time we explain what the state requires of you but more importantly what EDI needs from you to help us build the safest teen drivers. I have also included a few tips below to help prepare you for the next year of your new role as a "Parent Instructor".
Tip # 1 - Role Model
Set a good example and drive with the level of control and focus you want your teenager to drive. So many aspects of your driving have already been ingrained in a new driver based off their experiences as a passenger.
It's discouraging to me some of the stories I hear from my students about their parent's instruction methods. Learning to drive is hard enough but when your coach does not set a positive example, is not encouraging and lacks the ability to properly communicate expectations in a clear and concise way... it makes the process of learning much more challenging. Not all parents are able to properly teach someone to drive so if you are finding this to be a challenge, seek out help from friends, relatives or EDI to be sure they are getting the most out of this training time. EDI offers additional road packages, see registration page.
Tip # 2 - Share your experiences
Talk about your experiences as a teen driver. The mistakes you made as well as the important lessons you learned from the mistakes of others. Have your teen talk to other family members about their thoughts on driver's education, being a teen driver and concerns they have. The more information a teen has during the learning phase the further along they will be when they become a solo driver.
Its important to choose the right people to talk to your teen about driving. Many people are oblivious to the dangers of driving and their ability to avoid and accident during unsafe driving behavior is not something we encourage. Mature, responsible drivers should be sought after.
Tip # 3 - Start driving early
Let your teen drive as soon as possible. I've taken my step-daughter out a few times when she was 13 and more now that she is 14. We stay in large (unused) parking lots and we work on the basics of vehicle control. This way when your teen is permitted to drive, they already have a base to work from.
Driving in a parking lot is not illegal. However, remember that your insurance will not cover an accident resulting from an unlicensed driver. So choose a safe lot where there are no hazards and start with the basics.
Tip # 4 - Encourage don't discourage
Often parents make a number of mistakes when teaching their teen how to drive. We forget as seasoned drivers that we do so many things while driving that we don't put a lot of thought into (called automatic behavior). Well your teen driver hasn't developed that "automatic behavior" so its up to you to slowly build thier skills. Over challenging them in the early stages WILL hurt their progress and will also build "false confidence". Meaning they will believe they are better then they really are because they were able to complete a complex driving task to soon.
Here is an example of a good "first driving lesson with parents". Starting in a parking lot with few cars and her father is very encouraging. This is where ALL students should start regardless of experience.
Here is an example of a poor driving lesson. Two parents in the car is a bad idea. Not to mention this student is very tense and they find it funny as they ask her to drive in situations that are too challenging for a first drive.
Tip # 5 - Challenge in new environments
Of course we should let teens drive as much as possible, however it's easy to get caught up in "Destination Driving". I coined this term to describe parents who only allow their teens to drive to school, to work, to the grocery store, etc . They don't actually take them out for driving lessons, but just allow them to drive during times when a destination is desired. The problem with this, is that teens can show great driving ability when they are exposed to the same situations over and over. This can give parents a false impression of their true skill. The more you challenge them in new environments the more well rounded they will become with all driving challenges.
Our new driver handbook will give you actual driving lessons to put your teen through. This will help give you some structure to their training while helping you be sure you are not missing critical information during the development stages of driving.