6- Looking Ahead
Teaching Your Teen to Drive
Goal: Teach your teen to develop defensive driving techniques and higher-level visual and anticipatory driving skills before moving on to more complex driving situations. In order to avoid last-second reactions and spot potential hazards, have your teen always look 12–15 seconds down the road. When they are looking far enough ahead, they will be able to spot hazards early and be well prepared to react to them.
Location: Start on a quiet neighborhood street. Please do not use official state road test courses for practice. Move onto a road with light traffic when your teen is ready.
Lesson one – SEE system
Teach your teen the SEE system, a simple system to help drivers recognize, anticipate and avoid risks before they turn into problems. SEE stands for:
Search for potential risks like oncoming vehicles, pedestrians, obstacles, or intersections, and ways to avoid or reduce those risks.
Evaluate alternative paths and speed for adjustments that would minimize or eliminate risks.
Execute the best speed, lane position and communication to reduce risk.
Have your teen use commentary driving as they practice the SEE system. As they drive, ask them to verbally describe their thoughts and actions in order to search for potential risks, evaluate the problems these risks could cause and what they would do to minimize the risks (choose alternative path or change speed), then execute the maneuver.
Lesson two – stopping-distance rule
Teach your teen the stopping-distance rule, for the safest distance to stop behind another vehicle. When your vehicle stops, you should be far enough away from the car in front of you that you can see where its tires make contact with the ground. Any closer is too close.
Lesson three – three-second rule
Teach your teen the three-second rule for the appropriate following distance when driving behind other vehicles. The three-second rule is an important safety measure designed to give drivers enough time to safely steer or brake to avoid problems that occur in front of them on the road.
- Start counting when the rear bumper of the vehicle in front of you passes an object.
- Count “one thousand ONE, one thousand TWO, one thousand THREE”.
- Your front bumper should not pass that same object before you’ve reached “three”.
Have your teen practice the three-second rule at least 10–12 times, counting out loud to check whether their following distance is appropriate.