Driving Refresher for Parents Teaching Teens to Drive

You may not remember everything you learned in driver's ed, and a lot of laws have likely changed since you took your writing test. But if you're going to teach your teen to drive, you should get a refresher before hopping into the passenger seat. Your state's driving manual has all the material you need to know, but this quick crash course for parents is a good place to start.

How Much Do You Remember from Driver's Ed?

Even the most experienced drivers forget what they learned in class decades before, and many pick up some driving habits that go against what's in the books. Put your driving knowledge to the test by taking this quiz.

Q: What is the recommended safe following distance?

A: At least three seconds in good weather conditions. That distance increases when traveling at higher speeds or in adverse weather conditions.

Q: What should drivers do when faced with a solid yellow traffic light?

A: Drivers should come to a stop if it is safe to do so.

Q: What does a flashing yellow light mean?

A: Proceed with caution while being aware of cross traffic.

Q: Who has the right of way at an uncontrolled intersection?

A: The vehicle that arrived first at the intersection has the right of way. When all drivers reach the intersection at the same time, the one on the right has the right of way.

Q: What are the best practices for sharing the road with bicyclists?

A: Don't share lanes with bicyclists and always give cyclists plenty of space (at least three feet) when passing them. 

Q: What restrictions do teenage drivers have to follow?

A: Typically, teen drivers have to follow curfews, restrictions on how many passengers they can have in the vehicle, and zero-tolerance alcohol policies. Every state has its own Graduated Driver's License (GDL) rules.

Q: When is it mandatory to stop for a school bus?

A: School bus laws vary by state, but all drivers must stop when driving behind a school bus with flashing yellow or red lights. In some states, oncoming traffic on non-divided highways must stop, too.

Q: How should drivers hold the steering wheel?

A: Drivers should place their hands at 9 and 3, on opposite sides of the steering wheel.

3 Basic Driving Techniques to Teach Your Teen

It's not just the knowledge test that stumps parents teaching their teens to drive. Sometimes, the simplest driving techniques are the toughest to teach. Why? Well, driving can feel like second nature when you have decades of experience behind the wheel. But what feels obvious to you is completely new to your teen, so teach them these basic skills from the start.

1. Braking Smoothly

When teens start driving, it can feel like they have lead feet. You tell them to brake and they slam on the brakes. Learning how much pressure to apply to the pedals takes practice, why not make that one of your first lessons?

2. Managing Speed

Managing speed is a more advanced skill that probably comes easy to you, but not to beginners. Talk your teen through everything that is going on around them: traffic, road conditions, weather, other drivers' behaviors, and so on. Learning early on that speed limits aren't the only thing to pay attention to is an invaluable lesson.

3. Changing Lanes and Turning Safely

Gentle motions aren't any new driver's forte. If you tell your teen to change lanes, they'll likely do it abruptly. Don't panic or lose patience. Instead, show them how to signal, check mirrors and blind spots, and then gently turn the wheel to do everything gradually.

Driver's Ed Makes Safe Teen Drivers

Knowing the rules of the road is the first step to becoming a safe driver. Enrolling your teen in a good driver's ed program teaches them the basics. Then, when it's time to get behind the wheel, you can help them build on that knowledge and learn practical skills. Together, driver's ed and practice will help them get over any driving anxiety and stay safe on the road.

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