The Best Way to Teach Your Kids to Drive
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
- A valid driver’s license, either Class 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (you)
- A valid Class 7L learner’s license (your child)
- A standard passenger vehicle
- An empty parking lot to practice in
In order to help you understand the correct way to select and maintain safe tires, we will also start with the fundamentals. What is a tire? How do they work? And what are they made of?
Tires are your one and only point of contact with the road. Think on that for a minute. This is where steering, turning, braking, and accelerating interacts with the ground and translates into actual physical propulsion. For the vast majority of commuter vehicles, this critical border between your car and the road is fairly small: typically no larger than the length of a postcard. And just like with any medium that stands between you and the ground &mdash your shoes, your mattress – it plays a disproportionately large role in your quality of life.
SOME OTHER RESTRICTIONS BEFORE BEGINNING
Before you head out and trade places behind the wheel, here are some other BC road regulations you must observe:
- Driving supervisor must be 25 years of age or older, must be in an alert mindset (fully awake and sober), and must sit in the front passenger seat
- Maximum of two passengers total (i.e. you and at most one other passenger)
- Student driver must be in a full alert mental state (fully awake and sober) and must have their license on hand
- There is zero tolerance for any use of hands-free electronic devices while behind the wheel, cell phone or other
- All new driver instruction must occur between 5 A.M. and midnight
STAGE 1: GET THEM READY FOR THE ROAD
Before you kids ever buckle up for the first time behind the wheel, there is plenty you can do to get them prepared.
- Talk to them first to get their feelings about driving. Are they excited to learn? If so, that’s great; if not, try to ease all doubts-many of us are timid before we get comfortable behind the wheel- and don’t apply too much pressure. Soon enough they will become motivated themselves.
- Check to see if they are familiar with all of the area road signs, and what they each of them means. Start as young as possible with this. They will need to demonstrate this knowledge in order to obtain their Class 7N learner’s license.
- Provide a running commentary as you drive while your kid sits in the front passenger seat (assuming they are old enough to do so safely). What are you looking out for? What vehicles have got your attention, and why? At what point leading up to a turn are you applying the brakes? And what are some of the unwritten courtesies of the road? After enough such examples, try quizzing your kids to see if they remember and know what to do.
STAGE 2: GETTING BEHIND THE WHEEL AND DRIVING
Now comes the fun part, or the anxious part for some. Your goal in the earliest stages of driving instruction is to get your kids comfortable enough behind the wheel that some behaviours like signalling and braking smoothly become automatic before they head out onto a city road or highway. This will also build a base of confidence-not just for your kids, but for you sitting in the passenger seat!
- Find a big empty parking lot, somewhere where there are not too many people or vehicles, and where you have enough room to weave and make turns.
- Switch seats and hand over the keys. Once you both have your seatbelts secured, have your kid turn on the ignition, shift out of Park, and very lightly press on the gas pedal. At this point, the driving instruction is up to you; direct your driver around the parking lot, or have them follow whatever path is comfortable for them. This would also be a good time to practice the various parking techniques, which are typically the most difficult maneuvers for most new drivers to learn.
- Choose your criticisms wisely. We know you must be eager to impart every little bit of wisdom on your new drivers, but too much feedback or criticism all at once can be overwhelming and discouraging. Warn them against dangerous habits before they begin to set, but don’t nitpick over situations where “good enough” will do.
- Now that you’ve got a routine, do this as often as possible and your student will become better every day. Parental instruction is often a terrific complement to lessons from a certified driving school.
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