According to some studies, most parents aren’t good at teaching their teens to drive. It can be scary at first, but as a parent, you can give your new driver the skills they need to become a proficient and responsible driver by coaching them right. Here is our healthy guide that will steer your new driver towards success with the right coaching and essential skills.
BE A COACH, NOT A PARENT
It can be hard letting go of your parental instincts when in the passenger seat and correcting or cringing with every wrong turn or bump. Being a coach to a new driver is similar to being a sports coach; it takes healthy communication, trust, setting an example, feedback, and patience.
Here are some pointers on how to be a coach to your new driver:
- Ask your new driver if they have any questions about the vehicle - they may need clarification about the transmission, indicators, and other vehicle specifics before they start driving it.
- Keep coaching short for the first few sessions, because teens will get itching to drive.
- Practice one skill at a time. Move beyond the parking lot - teens need real road conditions to practice.
- Sign your teen up for Alberta driver education in the winter so their spring and summer driving is a breeze
- Stay informed with a workbook from the Government of Alberta below.
We tend to pass on habits to new drivers without knowing it, but ask yourself this: would you pass a road test if you took it today? If not, grab a refresher or advanced driving course to get comfortable again with road rules before showing your new driver the ropes.
5% of driving is in the hands and feet, and the other 95% happens between the ears.
Here’s a checklist of what you will want to ring home during your teen’s learning process.
The Vehicle Itself
- Dashboard warning lights
- Fuelling up
- Checking fluids
- Cleaning the car
- Seat belts and airbags
- Tire inflation and inspection
- Avoiding distractions
- Interactions with others
- Making lane changes
- Controlling the car
- Safe turns
- Shifting gears
- Backing up
- Three-point turns
- 90-degree parking
- Angle parking
- Parallel parking
- Advanced skills
- Freeway driving
- Signalling to other drivers
- Dealing with intersections
- Maintaining safe driving distances
- Defensive driving skills
- Night driving
- Driving in snow and/or wet conditions
In case of an accident
- Changing a flat tire
- High wind driving
- Downed power lines nearby
- Emergency Response
Steven Lee with D-Tec Driver Testing and who has 30 years of transportation driving experience says that aside from having control over the vehicle, some drivers get too nervous, make mistakes, and can fail their driver’s test. But Steven doesn’t like the word “fail”. Instead, he acknowledges that a new driver just needs more practice with the right coach.
KNOW THE NEW DRIVER STAGES
When you understand your teen, they’ll be more willing to learn from you. We’ve done the work for you and gathered the five stages of driver’s education below that you’ll need to know to coach your teen better.
Stage 1: How A Vehicle Works
This stage is when your teen is getting a general orientation about how the vehicle works. Assign a manual to read and some hands-on demos.
By the end, they should know:
- How to start/stop the engine
- How to turn on/off headlights and parking lights
- How to turn on/off and to adjust windshield wipers
- How to check the oil, fuel the vehicle, and inflate or change tires
- What to do in case of an accident
- What the various lights on the dashboard mean
- How to fasten seat belts
Stage 2: The Basics
Stage 2 covers vehicle maneuvers and can be learned in an empty parking lot.
They should be learning to:
- Shift gears if using a manual transmission
- Back the car safely and straight
- Show awareness of his or her surroundings
- Make safe turns, both left and right, including signalling
- Stop the car smoothly
More to Read: Basic Car Maintenance Every New Driver Should Know
Stage 3: Interacting With Other Drivers and Distractions
In this stage, your teen will be learning to drive around other drivers, pedestrians, parked cars, signage, construction, and various road environments. They should feel at ease with residential streets to eventually driving on multi-lane roads. At the end of this stage, your teen should be able to:
- Drive courteously
- Obeying speed limits and traffic signs
- Safely cross railroad tracks
- Use mirrors and check blind spots
- Navigate safely through four-way stops, two-way stops, and uncontrolled intersections
- Make a smooth and safe lane change
- Maintain a "safety cushion" in traffic
Stage 4: Twists & Turns
It might surprise you how many accidents happen in parking lots - about 1 in 5. By this point, your teen should know how to:
- Safely pull into and out of a diagonal parking space
- Make a safe U-turn
- Make a safe three-point turn
- Park safely on a hill—facing uphill and facing downhill
- Safely parallel park
- Safely pull into and out of a 90-degree parking space
Stage 5: Final Stage
In the words of any teen that likes video games, this is the final boss. Until your new driver is completely comfortable with stages 1 through 4, they shouldn’t jump to this stage yet.
To complete this stage, they should know how to:
- Drive safely in ice, snow, and wet weather
- Drive safely on the freeway, including merging, lane changes, and maintaining safe distances from other vehicles
- Drive safely at night
To summarize, our friends at AMA put together an infographic on what a new driver experiences after they turn 14 (the eligible driving age in Alberta).
CELEBRATE WITH YOUR NEW DRIVER
Did your new driver get their driver’s license or pass a stage in their journey above? Celebrate with them by congratulating them, treating them to their favourite dinner, or getting them a gift. When they see your interest in their success, they’ll want to achieve more as a driver.
Here is how some new drivers celebrated getting their license on social media.
Coaching a new driver isn’t easy, but if you want help, check out Carrot. Once they’re ready to drive, Carrot tech is backed by InsureMy so new drivers can get 10% off their insurance when they sign up.
HOW DO I GET CARROT?
Carrot is as easy to use as 123:
- Enroll with InsureMy (plus get a 10% discount)
- Connect your vehicle to the Drive With Carrot App
a. (Download it on iTunes or Google )
- Buckle up and start getting cash rewards for driving smart!
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