With two of our team experiencing teenagers learning to drive, we asked our expert Driver Trainers for some top tips for making the experience a positive one for both parties…
- Get the basics taught by an Approved Driving Instructor, and wait until the learner has had a few lessons. Understand that your way may not be the way being taught – or the right way!
- Revisit the Highway Code! There’s no point in your learner asking you for information if you don’t know the answer.
- Speak to the instructor and ask what areas they are working on and what issues/problems are arising e.g. How often are they using the dual control? YOUR car won’t have duel controls and some learners won’t know they’re being used!
- Establish some ground rules before you set off – e.g. “stop” means “stop now”.
- Avoid shouting: it will make your learner jump and does nothing for their nerves!
- Take the learner to a quiet area to learn the controls and feel for the car, clutch/brake etc… This will help with confidence – for both you and them! Unless you happen to be a trained driving instructor, being a passenger to a learner also takes practice.
- Be aware that instructor cars tend to be more modern – this may have a big impact on when the learner needs to start braking in their practice.
- If you’re not comfortable as a passenger, don’t do it – nobody learns well when they’re tense! And more importantly, it could have a negative effect on the learner’s driving.
- If they make a mistake, ask them what they think they might do differently, rather than telling them what they did wrong.
- As learner cars are fitted with duel controls, understanding how and when you need to intervene is hard and requires practice. The majority of the time it will be at lower speeds e.g. approaching junctions/roundabouts. This is why it’s important for the learner to have a number of lessons with an approved ADI before attempting.
- Make sure the learner’s car is equipped with a First Aid Kit, Breakdown Kit and Fire Extinguisher – and that they know how to use them.
- Teach them some basic maintenance skills POWDER:
P – petrol or diesel?
O – oil – does it need topping up? Do you know what type to use?
W – water – coolant – does it need topping up? Do you need screen wash?
D – damage – have a look around the car, anything significant e.g. loose exhaust.
E – electrical – do all the lights work?
R – rubber – check the tyres (including the spare). Is the tread the legal minimum? (UK Law requires car tyres to have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm in a continuous band around the central three quarters of the tyre, but for optimum safety, most manufacturers recommend that your tyres are changed at 3mm.) Are they the correct pressure?
- Most importantly – ENJOY this milestone!
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