About Supervising Teen Drivers
Teaching Your Teen to Drive
The Parent’s Supervised Driving Program gives you a simple, easy-to-follow plan you can use to help your teen become a safe and responsible driver.
Some thoughts as you begin this exciting experience together:
Make an effort to enjoy the learning process: Driving is a big step toward independence, and your teen is entering a new phase of life. You’ll both remember this experience for years to come. Make it a good memory!
Practice makes perfect: Studies show that the risk of a crash diminishes with experience. The more time you can spend driving with your teen, the less likely it is they’ll crash when they begin driving alone. Driving in a variety of circumstances is equally important. While using this program, you should drive on all types of roads. Make sure your teen gets exposure to a variety of roadways, and in different conditions as well: at night; in rain, fog, and snow; and in heavy and light traffic.
Be a driving role model: It’s not enough to say, “Do as I say.” Children imitate their parents’/guardians’ behavior, so your driving should set a good example for your teen to emulate. Be sure that you:
- Obey all traffic laws.
- Correct any unsafe driving habits (driving aggressively, rolling through stop signs, accelerating through yellow lights, speeding, etc.).
- Refrain from using your cell phone while driving.
- Always wear your seat belt, and remind your teen that buckling up is the law. This will need to be an ongoing conversation — buckle up every trip, every time.
Tips for teaching your teen
- Seatbelts must always be worn properly by everyone in the vehicle.
- Before each session, discuss the goals of the day’s lesson.
- Before each new lesson, review what was learned during the previous lesson.
- Keep instructions simple and concise. Say where to go and what action to take. For example: “Drive to the corner and turn right.”
- The feedback you give should be calm, precise, and immediate. Be patient and alert at all times. Remember to give positive feedback when your teen succeeds!
- When your teen makes a mistake, which will happen often, do not criticize. Remain calm and simply repeat the maneuver until it’s done correctly. To minimize their frustration, emphasize to your teen that mistakes are a normal part of learning.
- These lessons should be consistent with what is taught by your teen’s driver’s education instructor. If you teach something differently, your teen will be confused and learning will be more difficult. If the lessons in this program are different from the instructor’s, contact them to clarify the discrepancies.
- Remember that students learn at different paces. Make sure your teen has mastered each skill before you move on to the next lesson, even if that means repeating a lesson several times. Patience and practice will pay off in the long run.
- Integrate night driving into as many lessons as possible. In Iowa, a minimum of two hours of supervised driving in the dark is required to advance to an intermediate license, and another two hours are required to advance to a full license.
Most importantly, make sure the vehicle you use for training is safe. Confirm that the brakes have been recently inspected, and check to make sure the tires have sufficient tread depth. It’s generally recommended that you do not train in larger vehicles that lack stability control.