5 – Driving on a Quiet Street
Teaching Your Teen to Drive
Goal: Teach your teen to move and stop a vehicle safely and with confidence on quiet roads.
Location: Start in a large, level, mostly empty area. Move to a quiet neighborhood street when indicated. If you know that the neighborhood you’re driving in is used for the an official driver license exam, please use a different area to practice.
Before moving out onto the road, make sure that your teen has reviewed the driver’s manual and is familiar with street signs, signals, pavement markings, and yield and speed laws.
Starting in a quiet, large, level, empty area, review the skills learned so far. Have your teen drive several laps around the lot, practicing smooth braking and accelerating, maintaining steady speeds, steering into right and left turns, and using reference points to align the car with curbs (or lines).
Lesson one – commentary driving
Coach your teen to use “commentary driving” throughout this lesson, if possible.
Lesson two – lane position
When you and your teen feel ready, move to a quiet street.
With your teen behind the wheel, first have them practice driving straight in three different lane positions. Do this for several miles, practicing each position at least 10 times:
Center position ➊: The most common position, with the vehicle centered within the lane. Coach your teen that they should stay in the center position under most circumstances.
Left position ➋: The vehicle positioned to the left side of the lane. This is best used when approaching parked vehicles and potential hazards on the right (if no oncoming traffic). It should be avoided on a hill or a curve.
Right position ➌: The vehicle positioned to the right side of the lane. This is usually done when making a right turn to allow for a safety margin on the left side of the vehicle.
Lesson three – intersections
Coach your teen on these techniques for safely approaching an intersection:
- Search for vehicles, pedestrians, signs, and traffic signals.
- Check the rearview mirror for any potential hazards behind the car.
- If it’s an intersection with traffic signals, identify who has the green light.
- If turning, put on the turn signal four seconds before making the turn.
- If a stop is required, stop behind the white stop line.
- Select the best lane for the intended direction of travel.
- Yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and other vehicles.
Goal: Teach your teen to turn both right and left safely and with confidence on quiet roads.
Location: A quiet block of single-lane roads, ideally without traffic signals at the intersections.
Lesson one – right turns
When your teen is comfortable with lane positions and intersections, it’s time to practice turns.
Start with right turns. Have your teen drive clockwise around the block 10–12 times:
- Pick a line at the center of the intended travel path while steering through a turn. Make sure
your teen does not fixate on one specific spot, but instead focuses on a broader path.
- Focus on smooth braking into the turn and acceleration out of the turn, as previously practiced
in the large, level, empty area.
- Always check mirrors before turns and signal four seconds before turning.
Lesson two – left turns
When your teen is proficient at right turns, move on to left turns. Have your teen drive counterclockwise around the block 10–12 times, coaching them on these techniques for safe left turns:
- Position the vehicle close to the yellow line in the middle of the road.
- If there is a stop sign or red light, stop with wheels pointed straight ahead before the stop line, crosswalk or intersection.
- Search the intersection in all directions for vehicles, pedestrians, signs, and signals.
- Select a gap in traffic and pull straight forward toward the middle of the intersection.
Coach your teen to avoid hesitating.
- Use the yellow line on the street being turned onto as a target. Turn into the travel lane
closest to the yellow line.
- When the turn is complete, let the steering wheel slide back through the hands.
- Pick a new target 15–20 seconds ahead in the center of the travel path and accelerate gradually.
Be sure to practice with your teen in a variety of conditions, including at night and in
inclement weather, as much as possible.