Where to Start When Teaching Your Teen to Drive

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Tip #5:  Most people think the parking lot is the best place to start working with a new driver.   It’s not and the reason is simple, they will not get a good sense of lane position and making rights in lefts in a parking lot.  A good place to start is in a residential area.  Most neighborhoods have wide roads. These should be considered 4 lanes. The curb-side is for parking and right turns, just right of center is for going straight and left turns.  If your neighborhood has narrow lanes then you would lose the parking lane.

1. Practice Starting:

A. Tell the student to release the brake pedal and let the vehicle begin to move, always watching which way the front end is moving (e.g., left, right, forward or back.).

B. Instruct the student to gently and gradually accelerate.

2. Practice Stopping:

A. Have the student brake hard enough to feel the vehicle grab the pavement and start to slow the vehicle down. Remind the student to stay on the brake until they see that they have extra space. The student can always move forward if they have stopped too soon. (Hard, then soft braking).  This advice is opposite of what most people do. Most people start out soft and increase pressure as they go. However, the Number One cause of collisions for new drivers is rear-ending someone else. The reason for this is that the last thing to develop is a new driver’s judgment of space and speed.

3. Select the Stopping Position:

A. If there is no stop line or cross walk, then direct the student to stop at the edge of the roadway where they can see.

B. If there is a sidewalk, tell the student that they must stop before the sidewalk.  Whether lines are painted on the road or not is irrelevant. The student must still stop behind the sidewalk area.

C. If there is a stop line, then the student must stop behind the stop line at major intersections. There are usually three lines: two for the crosswalk and one for the stop line. However many lines there are, the student must stop behind all of them.   For safety reasons, we suggest that the student stops so they can see the lines in front of the vehicle. When they do this, they are positioned about a car-length away from the lines. This distance will give the student protection if they are hit from behind. This cushion of space also allows others who would like to make a right turn on a red light the ability to see around the student’s vehicle.  It is also much nicer for the pedestrians when the cars are not in their crossing space. Another reason is that when sitting in the left turn lane, this extra space enables trucks that need extra turning space to turn from the other street.

D. Arizona is Number One in the nation for red light runners. For this reason alone, sitting back a little and not jumping immediately into the intersection after the light has changed could save a driver’s life.

Have the student practice driving straight down major streets during light traffic such as Sunday mornings, or on weekdays between 9:00 and 11:00 a.m. Major streets are best because there are two or three lanes for other traffic to go around the practicing driver so they are not holding up traffic. Stay in the right lane.

Direct the student to practice driving straight, staying centered in the lane. Remind the student to keep their eyes off of the pavement, and instead, to look straight down the center of the lane up high at the street light level, and ahead down the road as far as their eyes can see. Have them practice proper stopping at stop lines and smooth accelerations.

NEVER, NEVER have your teenager pull the car out of the garage until later in the process, they may not have good pedal control.  The parent needs to pull the car out of the garage, park it on the street and start your lesson from there.

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