How To Help Teen Drivers

Learning to drive can be stressful and scary — for new teen drivers and the people teaching them to drive. Improve the process by following this five-step method when you practice together, and ease both your fears.

  1. Make a plan for driving lessons. Decide where your teen will be driving, how he/she’ll get there, and what skills you’ll be practicing. The best way to become a better driver is to drive, so give your teen lots of time behind the wheel in lots of scenarios, including “scary” conditions like driving at night, in heavy traffic, and in bad weather.
  2. Provide clear instructions. Avoid yelling or panicking. Instead, use a calm, even tone to instruct your teen on what to do. Don’t distract with superfluous conversation, especially with a brand-new driver.
  3. Avoid distractions. Model the behavior you want your teen to have, both while teaching him/her to drive, and when you’re behind the wheel and your teen is in the passenger seat. Don’t text or fiddle with tech when driving. Don’t eat or drink. Keep music to a minimal volume.
  4. Evaluate the experience together, especially if it was tricky. When your teen has reached the planned destination, talk about the drive. What went well? What went wrong? How could the situation be handled better next time? Offer praise where appropriate and point out opportunities for improvement.
  5. Maintain a progress log together. After each drive, note where and how long your teen drove, what the conditions were, and the skills practiced. This is a great place to make notes from your joint evaluation so you can remember to revisit skills that need a bit more practice.