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Driving with a learner can prove stressful, even more so if it’s your son or daughter behind the wheel. Tempers can get fraught, tears can be shed, and you may end up asking yourself why on earth you agreed to it.
Research from Sweden has shown that the more practice learner drivers get at home, the safer they will be after passing their driving test. According to the Driving Standards Agency, the average learner needs around 45 hours with an instructor and a further 22 hours of additional practice to make them safe on the roads, so be assured that any help you can give is ultimately a good thing.
Below, Trusted Dealers offers 10 pieces of essential advice on teaching kids to drive.
1. Can you do it?
Before you commit to instructing your loved one, it is well worth considering a few questions. Do you get nervous or anxious when other people are driving? Do you have the ability to guide your son or daughter through potentially dangerous situations on the road using just your voice? Can you stay calm or is it likely you may lose your temper if a mistake is made? And finally, do you have the time to commit to this? If the answer to these questions is no, you’re better off leaving it to the experts.
2. Consider a course
No matter how competent a driver you think you are, it takes a different type of skill to teach a person to drive safely. Consider enrolling on an advanced driver’s course or a defensive driving course to iron out any bad habits you may have picked up over the years. For more information on suitable courses, visit the Institute of Advanced Motorists website.
3. Remain calm
This might sound obvious but the key to successful driving is to remain calm at all times to avoid any accidents. Often if you are close to the learner driver, you may get frustrated when you see them struggling to do something that you feel is easy. Remembering how you felt as a learner? Learning to take a step back and let them work out the problem for themselves without jumping in, could be the key to a more successful lesson.
4. Make checks
Before you head out with a learner driver, you must always make sure you meet the minimum legal requirements. If you are a parent then you will more than likely instantly qualify, but if you’re are a sibling or friend of the driver, you must be over 21 years of age and have held a full GB, Northern Ireland or European Community/ European Economic Area (EC/EEA) driving licence for a minimum of three years. Failure to comply to the minimum requirements could result in you losing your licence in the event of an accident.
You must make sure that your car and learner driver are properly insured and purchase adequate insurance for you to drive the car and for your son or daughter to be added to the insurance policy as a provisional driver. Previously, in order to keep insurance costs down many parents added their children to their insurance policy as an occasional driver, but insurance companies have now got wise to this and will not accept youngsters on a parent’s policy other than as a provisional driver.
6. Plan your route
Bad route planning can lead to the learner making mistakes that are actually the fault of the supervisor. Poorly planned routes make it virtually impossible for the driving to be assessed accurately as time will be spent deliberating where you are actually going, not to mention the stress it can put a learner driver under if they have no idea where the next turning is going to be. Planning a route will help the learner to avoid mistakes made due to route pressure, and as the instructor, you will be able to recognise more clearly areas where lack of skill or understanding are prevalent.
7. Communicate with the instructor
It is important when practising to stick to routes where the driver feels comfortable. Taking a learner out on new routes that haven’t been covered by an instructor could put added pressure on them. Speak to the driving instructor to gain advice on the routes which are most suitable, or better still, sit in the car during a lesson to gain a clear understanding of how the instructor handles a lesson, where they go and what they expect from the learner at that present time in the learning process.
8. Take things slowly
If you are spending a lot of time trying to prevent your learner driver from stalling, or feel the need to keep grabbing the wheel to steer them back on course, it is likely you are trying to jump ahead with their progression. Unless the learner is near to driving test standard, it is advisable to avoid built up areas, heavy traffic or schools! Again, the simplest thing to do is check with the learner’s instructor about what to do and where to do it.
9. Choose your words
The choice of words you use can make a big difference to the way your learner responds. When giving instructions it’s wise to always explain what your idea of the meaning is, to prevent any misunderstanding or frustrations from arising. For example, rather than asking a learner to drive slowly, it is better to suggest they drive at 20 miles an hour, so they have a clear understanding of what is required.
10. Be patient
Above all, if you’ve decided to enter into the world of driving instruction, you must accept that a learner driver will not respond as quickly to a situation as you will, and therefore they will need to drive slower to compensate. You must learn to be patient and not allow yourself to be frustrated by their slower reactions.