Driver training: Important tips for teaching your teenager safe driving skills

So, you have a teenager armed with a permit ready to hit the Atlanta streets. If this is your first...

So, you have a teenager armed with a permit ready to hit the Atlanta streets. If this is your first dance with driver training, you may feel overwhelmed. Try not to worry too much; take a deep breath and make a plan to best help your teen learn how to become a safe driver. Atlanta is full of traffic and busy roads, so be sure your teen is sufficiently prepared before driving as a licensed driver.

Learn the car

First, familiarize your teenager with the car. Show your teen how to properly adjust the car's seat and mirrors. Then teach your teen the fundamentals of the dash and necessary controls. Also, discuss the warning lights that may pop up. Lastly, don't forget to go over any existing blind spots.

Driver training basics

Start driver training in a quiet parking lot. Let your teen get a feel for the car by practicing simple skills like turning and braking. This is also a great time to teach parking tactics. If you can, invest in some orange parking cones to use during training activities.

Stepping it up

The next step is to take your teenager driving around residential streets. Teach your teen about scanning for potential road hazards, such as pedestrians, animals, parked cars, bikers and other drivers. He/she should be frequently checking mirrors and blinds spots as well.

Some skills to focus on are:

  • Maintaining their line, not drifting
  • Slowing down around curves and when making turns
  • Mastering smooth braking
  • Coming to a complete stop at a stop sign
  • Learning the rules of right-of-way and left turns
  • Recognizing and abiding by street signs

Facing traffic and the highway

When your teen is comfortable, it's time to drive in busy streets and then the highway. These skills will be tougher to teach, and consequently, more difficult for your teen to master. Patience and practice will be essential for success.

Important things to work on include:

  • Lane changing and merging
  • Adjusting speed based on road conditions
  • Handling traffic lights and intersections
  • Using on and off ramps
  • Maintaining a safe distance based on traffic and speed
  • Driving during the night, dawn/dusk and in poor weather

Some final tips

  • Keep calm and don't yell. You don't want to turn your teenager into a nervous wreck.
  • Be sure to discuss any driving mistakes when you're in a safe place.
  • Try to master each skill before moving to the next.
  • Convey the rules of driver's safety, including: buckling up, no distractions, no drowsy driving, no reckless driving and no driving under the influence.
  • Educate your teen about basic automotive maintenace, such as maintaining tire pressure, checking the oil, pumping gas, fixing a flat and jump-starting a car.
  • Finally, practice a lot. Remember, safe driving comes with experience.

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