It seems like only yesterday you were taking the training wheels off his bike, yet here’s your teenager in the driver’s seat of your family car, awaiting direction. Even if your teen is registered in a driver education, AMA recommends an additional 30 to 50 hours of supervised in-vehicle coaching to reinforce the skills and knowledge imparted by course instruction. So how do you ensure those in-car hours are as valuable (and as stress-free) as possible?
REFRESH YOUR KNOWLEDGE
Your son or daughter had to pass a knowledge test to obtain a Class 7 learner’s permit. Could you pass the same test? It may be a good idea to review the Alberta Driver’s Guide. Getting reacquainted with the rules of the road will help you better advise your teen as he or she begins to navigate diverse driving situations.
MAKE A PLAN
Talk about what you both hope to accomplish during the driving session before you hit the road, and set clear expectations. The more you keep the discussion open, the less chance there will be for misunderstandings, which is when things tend to go south. If your teen is enrolled in an AMA Driver Education Program, the report card they receive after each in-car training session can be useful for identifying skills to reinforce and improve upon.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Scheduling shorter practice sessions—15 minutes or so—is best. Further focus the training by agreeing to work on one skill at a time, such as starting and stopping, changing lanes or turning.
Choose a familiar route for your initial trips: to and from school, for example, or the grocery store. Once you and your teen have built up some confidence on the road, consider helping them gain experience in specific conditions, like downtown driving, or driving on gravel roads, or driving in the rain.
TALK ABOUT IT
Have your new driver communicate what she plans to do before she does it. For instance, if you’re practising a left-hand turn across traffic, have her tell you when she’s going to turn (“after the yellow car, I’m going to go”). This way you can judge whether the manoeuvre is a good idea—maybe your new driver hasn’t noticed a cyclist coming up alongside that yellow car.
STICK TO THE ROAD
Stay out of parking lots. You might think they’re an ideal place to start because of the open space, but this is precisely why they’re not. Beginners need to practise scanning their surroundings and driving in a straight line.
BE A GOOD ROLE MODEL
We’ve all developed a few bad habits over time. Take stock of your own behind-the-wheel behaviour and try to correct it where necessary.
HOW AMA CAN HELP
Tools of the Trade: Think you and your teen are ready to hit the road? AMA has a free, comprehensive set of coaching resources to help you and your young driver make the most of your in-car experience.