There are no “easy steps” or “10 tips” about how to educate and train a novice driver. Why is it we have to reduce everything to the top 5 reasons, or the 7 tips or 12 steps to do ANYTHING? Whatever happened to recognizing that each of us is a unique individual and we learn and process information differently? Sure we can make generalizations, we have to in order to navigate the world, but in the end, each individual’s own needs and style have to be taken into account. That is certainly true when it comes to teaching someone to drive. There are students that are considered the “norm” and then there are others that are the “exceptions” to the norm. If you really think about it, the exceptions are much more prevalent than the norm. Do you have a student that:
- Is bright, takes honors or advanced classes in school or just excels academically?
- Struggles and just can’t keep up no matter how hard they try?
- Is difficult to motivate and challenge to do and be their best?
- Has a learning challenge – ADD, ADHD, on the Autism spectrum, OCD, Anxiety disorder, brain injury, Bi-polar?
Obviously, this list can go on, but to make my point, let me just say, that if you have a student that falls into any one of those categories there is a lot to be considered when teaching that particular student how to drive.
How does age play into the equation? I live in the State of Arizona, and in this state a teenager is “eligible” for their learner’s permit at 15 years and 6 months. In other states it may be 15 or 17. Are any of these the “right age?” My answer is – there is “no right age.” There are behaviors and abilities that need to be taken into account. Do they have a level of maturity to comprehend the magnitude of responsibility driving a vehicle entails? Do they have the ability to develop the “basic skills” of vehicle control, lane position, and making left or right turns? Do they have the ability to develop the judgment and decision making skills that will allow them to react properly in any given situation?
How long is long enough for them to “hold a learners permit? In the State of Arizona it is six months. In other states it may be longer. Is there a right number? Again, my answer is – no, it depends on the circumstances. Does your student fall into the “norm” or are they an “exception?” If they fall into the “exceptions” then they will most likely take longer, maybe even years before they are ready to solo. If they have really busy schedules, they may take longer because they can’t take the necessary time to practice. Does their coach (usually the parent) have the ability to dedicate the time to practice with them? Just because you send them to driving school doesn’t mean you can wash your hands of any responsibility. Think of it in these terms – can your student attend a math class and not do their homework or practice a mathematical concept and then pass the test with an acceptable grade? Why would driving be any different?
Teaching someone to drive is a complex process in the best of circumstances. Why do we have the need to trivialize and make it seem easy? My answer is because it is what fits into our hectic life styles. Lack of time and energy is the excuse. “I don’t have time to take a class, “ I don’t have time to practice, they’ll learn on their own.” If either of these are you, then what I would say to you is – keep your child off the roads until you can make the time – the time to learn, the time to practice and the time to develop the appropriate skills to keep you and the rest of us alive. Visit our “Stop the Roadway Carnage” blog. It consists of newsfeeds regarding driving, and unfortunately, there is never a shortage of stories of fatalities and injuries around the United States. The only way we will change this trend is to get people to think differently about driving. It isn’t as easy as it looks. There are many factors that need to be taken into consideration and I have only scratched the surface in this article. I will elaborate on them in subsequent articles.