Learning to drive is a rite of passage for tens of thousands of young people every year.
While there’s no replacement for professional instruction many parents are keen to help out and pass on their knowledge by giving their kids extra tuition.
It can help them gain confidence – and save money – but teaching or being taught by a member of your own family can be difficult and lead to arguments and stress.
With that in mind, we’ve teamed up with Asher Ismail, CEO of driving lesson provider Midrive, to offer some simple guidance to parents helping their children to learn to drive.
Asher says: “Teaching your children how to drive is one of the most stressful experiences any parent can go through. They will be excited, nervous and raring to learn, but giving up control of your car to teach them the ropes is incredibly challenging and may not be something every parent can face.”
If you do want to gvive it a try, here are some steps to follow:
Stick to what they know
Your children should be getting driving lessons alongside their time with you in the car. Your safest, least stressful way forwards is to stick to what they are learning in their lessons with their instructor.
If your child has recently learnt how to parallel or bay park, get them to practise these manoeuvres with you and give them structured feedback. Do not force them to do anything new with you in the car because this will likely end in a stressful and potentially dangerous situation for both of you. Teaching your child new tricks could also lead to them picking up bad habits and can end in you contradicting techniques taught by their instructor.
It’s worth sticking to roads that your child is familiar with, as taking them too far out of their comfort zone could lead to potentially dangerous mistakes being made. Local areas are definitely the safest option, particularly side roads and areas that you know will be quiet enough for them to practise without putting them under too much pressure.
Timing is important
To give them a real taste of what it’s like to drive, ensure you take them out on the road at different times of the day – but once they’ve got their confidence up, of course. This will give them a broader experience on the road and prepare them for the reality of what it’s like having their own licence.
As well as giving them a feel of what sitting in traffic is like versus cruising down a dual carriageway, it’s important that you take your child out in different weather conditions. They will need to be prepared for all eventualities; only taking your child out when it is sunny could lead to inexperience and danger later when they find themselves driving in rain or even snow.
Ensure they are ready
Almost all driving instructors have dual controls in their cars so that if a situation arises where their student has not pressed the brakes fast enough or an accident could be imminent, they can step in.
These controls ensure the safety of both parties and are imperative in the early stages of learning. Parents should only ever take their child out to learn to drive if they have been told their child is ready for it. They will not have the luxury of dual controls should something go wrong and taking a child onto the road when they are not ready could result in a nasty accident.
If you aren’t sure whether your child is ready, ask their instructor.
This is easier said than done, but it’s imperative that you stay calm and keep your composure, even if your child has made an incorrect move. Freaking out about an error will only exacerbate the situation and could lead to an incident.
If you notice your child doing something incorrectly, calmly correct them. Once you are able to, pull over in a safe place and tell your daughter or son what it is they did incorrectly and why it is unsafe to do it this way.
If your child does something incredibly dangerous, do jump in as best you can – in some situations taking immediate control may be required.
Give instructions with time to spare
When you’re in the passenger seat, ensure you are letting your child know what they should be doing and where they should be going with plenty of time to spare.
Springing last minute orders on them can cause them to lose their cool and could lead to an accident.
Check your insurance
The last but most important tip is to make sure your insurance actually covers having a learner in your car. You could face hefty penalties if you’re caught and you’re not covered. Learner driver car insurance, which can be paid for by the hour, is a good option if learners are not covered under your existing policy.
It’s also a legal requirement that you display their ‘L’ plates on your car when they’re in the driver’s seat.