So You “Think” You Can Teach Your Teen to Drive – “Think Again”

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Have you ever seen the commercial where a doctor is doing the job of someone who is a musician or a construction worker (quite badly, I might add)? The point of the ad is: “would you want your doctor doing your job, then why are you trying to do “their job” when you self-diagnose. Well, I might say the same to many parents when it comes to teaching their teenagers to drive. While it is ESSENTIAL for a parent to be involved and practice with their teenager, parents often do not make the best teachers when it comes to driving. Just because you “know how” to drive, does not mean you know how to teach. When we hire new instructors they are shocked at the amount of training they must complete to become a DrivingMBA instructor. Somewhere along the line they say: “there is a lot more to this than I thought.” Unfortunately, the attitude in this country is “anybody can do it” and that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Teaching anyone, whether they are a teenager or an adult requires much more than “knowing how to drive.” It requires:

  • an in-depth knowledge of the rules of the road
  • the ability to take a task like a turn or a lane change and break it down into “chunks” so a student can understand and more importantly learn to execute that task
  • the ability to facilitate learning vs. “talk-at” a student
  • the ability to read a student and adapt to their learning style
  • patience and a willingness to try different approaches to achieve success in relating a concept
  • creating an environment conducive to learning
  • being tough, yet fair and objective when assessing skills

These are just some of the skills required of an instructor in order for them to effectively teach a student to drive. Ask any adult what they think of their driving and their response is “they’re a good driver” it’s everyone else out there that doesn’t know how to drive.” When you start to question about “driving behaviors” you see the glances down or away, because, if they’re being honest, they “sometimes” engage in those “not so good driving behaviors.”

Driving is a big deal. It is one of those last life skills we impart to our children before they start to experience the notion of freedom and making “life or death” choices. If they choose to engage in risky behaviors behind the wheel of a car, the consequences can be catastrophic, not only for the teenager, but for innocent by-standers as well. It makes me crazy when I see the poor choices parents make for their kids. It starts with us, it is up to us to insure they become responsible young adults and driving is a big piece of that puzzle. Don’t assume “anyone can do it” because you or someone else might pay an unspeakable price because you didn’t think it was “that big of a deal.”

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