10 tips for teaching a learner driver
If your teenager – or partner – is learning to drive, there are some important things to teach them as soon as possible. Not only will you feel safer but they’ll be more confident knowing you’ve got their back and can help whenever they need it.
Refresh your own knowledge
“But I already know the road rules,” you might say. Even if you’ve been driving for years, you’d be surprised what you might have forgotten. Can you still explain the difference in road marking and rules between give-way and stop signs, for example? There’s no harm in leafing through the rule book and making sure you’re completely refreshed before teaching your protégé.
Every learner driver needs to know that they should only drive a car that’s maintained with impeccable safety. Car services should always be up to date, tyres need to have plenty of tread and squeaky brakes should be seen to immediately.
Teach them the ‘cockpit drill’
Every time your L-plater gets into a car, they should go through the ‘cockpit drill’. That means checking (and adjusting if necessary) the seat and mirrors every time they get in, before they even start the car.
Switch off all mobile devices...
Taking just two seconds to look at a mobile phone while driving at 60km/h has a person travelling blind for 33 metres. Teaching learners to remove the distraction of their phones and other devices is one of the most important lessons you can impart.
...but embrace technology
Technology will play an even bigger role in their driving as the years go on, so encourage them to understand important safety mechanisms such as anti-lock brakes, lane diversion systems and cruise control.
Handling traffic lights
It seems simple: green means go, red means stop. But there’s one simple thing your learner driver needs to know: green only means go when it’s safe to do so. Insist that they take a moment to check that the intersection is clear before trusting the instruction of a green light.
Check blind spots… twice
Not many drivers remember to check their blind spots a second time when changing lanes or turning – but it’s so important in order to see any motorbike riders or cyclists.
Open car doors Dutch-style
Speaking of cyclists, the safest way of opening car doors is with the Dutch Reach. The trick is to open your car door using the hand that’s furthest from the door. That is, if you’re the driver, use your left hand. Your body naturally rotates towards the door, giving you an extra chance to check whether cyclists are coming.
Road rage isn’t the answer
You want your student to be a clear-thinking, calm driver, and the best way to achieve that is to model this behaviour. So, no tailgating allowed – and don’t whinge about other drivers when you’re in the car with your L-plater.
Don’t give up
Becoming a good driver takes persistence. Whether they’re ready to sit the test at the earliest opportunity or they take a little longer, let them know it’s okay to stick with learning until they’re comfortable.
With your support and wisdom, a learner driver will become a confident, safe driver. And in the process, you might even learn a few valuable lessons yourself!