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Blog category: Driving

How to Teach Someone to Drive

7 min read

Being a good driver and knowing how to teach someone to drive are very different, although they use similar skills. Remaining calm and patient, as well as thinking ahead, are critical to both endeavors. Before you offer driving lessons for teens in your home, review our guide to teaching driving skills and plan your approach. Remember — your success helps make the roads safer for everyone.

Before Teaching Someone To Drive Behind The Wheel

The first step in how to teach someone to drive begins before you ever get into the car. You might be tempted to sit a new driver behind the wheel and start the engine. Instead, taking the time to go over a few ground rules and basics can help prevent an accident. Remember that the new driver will be nervous. Starting with a review of the rules of the road they should already know is an excellent way to begin driving lessons for teens.

Before allowing a new driver behind the wheel, check that you have the right car insurance coverage for a learning driver. You’ll definitely want to know that your car is covered before letting a new driver take control of driving practice.

Make sure your car is in good repair as well. Check that no warning lights are lit and that you’re up to date on regular maintenance, such as oil changes. A well-maintained car lowers the risk of an unexpected breakdown or mechanical failure, which would be stressful for a new driver.

Go Over Basic Driving Skills

A critical aspect of how to teach someone to drive is not skipping anything. Spend the first few driving lessons going over the basics of driving and cars. Have the new driver sit in the driver’s seat and help them adjust the seat to fit their body. Explain how to use the mirrors and adjust them accordingly. Let the driver get a feel for where buttons, levers, and controls are located — such as the gear shift, turn signals, windshield wipers, and lights.

Start Driving Lessons for Teens in Empty Parking Lots

Early driving lessons for teens should start in a large, empty parking lot. Start with turning the car on and off, then move to putting it into gear and driving forward a few feet. Add in turning, reversing, and pulling along a curb or into a parking spot. Include road and parking lot safety tips from the beginning to help your student build safe habits as they learn.

Stay on quiet streets or in empty lots for the first several lessons behind the wheel. A quiet location with no other drivers makes it easier for the new driver to focus on mastering basic driving skills. Extend the length of your lessons as the driver becomes more confident and include longer exercises.

How to teach someone to drive is all about taking things slowly. In the beginning, for example, you might ask your student to do one or two steps at a time, such as pulling forward and making one turn. In later lessons, you can make the tasks more complex, such as asking the driver to drive around the block and pull back up to the curb. At this stage, it’s time to have the student watch for potential problems, to look ahead and anticipate what may happen. Learning several critically important safe driving habits will help the student become a safe, defensive driver.

Add New Driving Skills Challenges

As your new driver gains confidence, add new challenges to your lessons. Have them drive on a street with other vehicles or multiple lanes. Slowly increase driving speed each lesson.

When they’re ready, take your driver to a road with multiple lanes and teach them to switch lanes, merge, and use different types of turn lanes. Work your way up with more speed and more complex driving tasks, including spending time on the highway. Begin drilling the student driver on safe driving skills and teaching tips for defensive driving.

Stay Calm and Positive During Driving Practice

The most critical part of how to teach someone to drive is to remain calm and give lots of positive reinforcement. Learning to drive is nerve-wracking for most people. Having an instructor who helps calm their nerves and encourages them to get better makes for a more enjoyable learning experience. A negative experience with driving lessons for teens can be the cause of life-long driving anxiety. Instead, be patient and encouraging.

Provide Explanations

An essential tip for how to teach someone to drive is to switch roles gradually. Begin by clearly explaining each task you set. This lets them understand why they should or shouldn’t be doing something. Then, as they develop proficiency, have them explain what they should be doing instead of instructing them.

For example, you’re approaching a red light. You walk them through the steps to stopping at a stoplight:

  • Let off the accelerator when the light changes.
  • Gently apply the brakes.
  • Add pressure until you come to a stop.
  • Hold the brake until it’s time to safely move forward.

When they understand the steps, you can flip the roles and ask them to describe what they’re doing at the next red light. This encourages the student to think about their next step as they relay the information to you.

Let Students Make Safe Mistakes

Patience is essential to teaching someone to drive because mistakes will happen. Most drivers make some mistakes when driving, especially new drivers. You can help keep your new driver safer on the road by letting them make simple mistakes when you’re teaching them. This gives your student a chance to work through why they made the mistake without the pressure of a busy road or highway.

Find an empty road or parking lot and ask the driver to complete some driving practice tasks, such as practicing changing lanes. Let them complete the tasks without instruction. Carefully watch for common mistakes the driver might make, such as forgetting to look over their shoulder.

After the tasks are completed, stop the car and discuss the assignment. Ask them what they thought they did correctly, how they think they did, and what changes they would make. Suggest improvements and point out any driving skills mistakes in a respectful and encouraging tone.

Introduce Common Driving Scenarios

Once your new driver feels confident and has developed some basic driving skills proficiency, you’ll need to let them experience more complexity. It’s important to expose your student to as many real-world driving situations as possible. The more they encounter during driving practice, the easier it becomes to handle new situations when they’re driving on their own.

Make a list of practical driving situations most drivers face and go over how to handle each one. Let your student gain hands-on experience for each one, if possible. The next time it rains, for example, plan an impromptu lesson on a quiet street and let them get used to driving in poor weather. Some other common driving situations to talk through and role-play include:

Include Other Car-Related Skills

The best driving lessons for teens are about more than just how to teach someone to drive. They also prepare the student to follow the rules of the road, to care for their car, and even what to do when they witness an accident. You should include practical car-related tips and skills as part of your driving lessons. Once your student is more advanced, spend some time each lesson learning a new skill that goes along with having a driver’s license.

Your student should feel confident they can diagnose basic dashboard lights, fuel up at the gas station, air up a tire, and perform essential care maintenance such as checking the oil.

Whether you’re teaching a teenager or an adult who’s learning to drive for the first time, the key to successful driving lessons is taking things at the student’s pace. Some students may be ready to hit the highway after only a few lessons, while others may need to spend a lot of time on basic driving skills before they handle traffic. If you listen to your student and encourage them with a positive attitude, they should be ready to handle the car safely when they get their driver’s license.

Explain Car Insurance and Registration

Remember how we started this discussion about how to teach someone to drive by having you check your car insurance? There’s a reason for that. Some states, like California, require all drivers, including student drivers, to be covered by car insurance. Teens living at home with their parent(s) can be added to a parent’s existing car insurance. If the student driver does not live with their parents, they should have their insurance.

When you plan how to teach your kid to drive, explain the concepts and critical importance of car insurance and vehicle registration. While car ownership and operation aspects are less sexy than perfecting driving skills, they are all part of being responsible.

As your driving student gains proficiency, encourage them to continue their training by reading our driving blog. It’s loaded with helpful information about all aspects of driving and car ownership.

Best wishes on your driving lessons for teens. You are helping to make the roadways safer for us all.

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The above content is for informational purposes only and is not a direct representation of coverages offered by Wawanesa or its policies. The information does not refer to any specific contract of insurance and does not modify any definitions, provisions, exclusions or limitations expressly stated in any contracts of insurance. All references within the above content are illustrative and may not apply to your situation. The terms and conditions of the actual insurance policy or policies involved in a claim are determinative as to whether an accident or other loss is covered. To understand the coverage under your current policy, please log into the account management platform to review your policy or contact an agent directly.

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