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3- How Close Are You?

Drivers Icon Teaching Your Teen to Drive

Goal: Teach your teen how to tell where their vehicle is in relation to other vehicles or objects.

Location: A large, level, mostly empty area with clearly painted pavement lines and curbs.

Reference points

Explain to your teen that reference points are visual guides to help them judge the car’s distance from curbs, lines, other objects, and vehicles.

Lesson one – driver’s side curb (or line)

View out the front windshield. Reference points will be different for everyone, depending on the vehicle and the height of the driver.

  • Choose a pavement curb (or line), and tell your teen that the goal is to pull the driver’s side of the vehicle 6–12 inches away. Coach them to slowly pull up parallel to the line, getting gradually closer, and stop when they think they are 6–12 inches away. Have them look at where the line intersects in the front window.
  • Have your teen put the car in park and get out to check if the driver’s side wheels are 6–12 inches from the line. If it’s not the right distance, have them do it again, checking the reference points.

    Lesson two – passenger’s side curb (or line)

    View out the front windshield. Reference points will be different for everyone, depending on the vehicle and the height of the driver.

    • Choose another curb (or line) parallel to the passenger’s side, again pulling up slowly to within 6–12 inches. Use the same gradual pull-up method, but for this side, coach your teen to stop when the curb appears to intersect the center of the hood.
    • Again, have your teen get out of the vehicle to check whether the tires are 6–12 inches from the curb. Keep practicing and making adjustments, noticing the reference point, until they can do it consistently.

      Lesson three – front curb (or line)

      View out the driver’s side window. Reference points will be different for everyone, depending on the vehicle and the height of the driver.

      • Teach your teen to align the front bumper between 6–12 inches from a pavement curb (or line). Have them drive slowly straight toward the curb. Coach them to stop when the curb appears under the passenger’s side mirror.
      • Have your teen get out of the vehicle to check whether the front bumper is 6–12 inches from the curb. If not, have them adjust the reference point as needed and keep practicing.

Making your teen safer

It takes more than 15 minutes every day for six months to complete 50 hours of practice driving. For 100 hours, it’s more than 30 minutes a day for six months. Studies show that the more time you drive together, the safer your teen will be when driving alone.