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Driving Practice Tips

Your teen will get the most out of coaching sessions if you are prepared with a plan, know what to watch for, and are patient with the learner.

The following contribute to effective, productive driving sessions with your teen:

  • Pick a goal for each session. For example, one outing may focus on identifying potential hazards while another might emphasize braking smoothly.
  • Agree on how you’ll communicate. To avoid confusion, clarify in advance how you’ll refer to certain things—for instance, use the word “right” to mean “opposite of left” and reserve “correct” for affirming the proper execution of a skill.
  • Provide commentary. Actively give feedback while your teen is driving. Remember to stay positive, patient and calm—and to note good driving behaviour.
  • Take breaks. Stop every 20 minutes so your teen can relax and you can discuss their driving experience.

What to watch for:

As an experienced driver, operating a vehicle is probably automatic for you. You may be surprised to rediscover how much a driver has to actively attend to. Without overloading your teen’s attention, here are some things you can point out during your coaching sessions:

  • The unpredictability of other drivers. One can never assume others on the road will do what they’re ‘supposed’ to do. Call out the impact of drivers who may be tailgating, passing unsafely or driving too slowly. Talk about the risks of impaired drivers as well.
  • How using skills reduces risk. Note when adding following distance helps create space to react, for example, or how scanning for hazards minimizes ‘surprises’.
  • Weather effects. Point out the impact of conditions such as rain or snow.
  • Road types. Comment on the differences between managing a vehicle on straight roadways versus hills and curves, or between highways, rural roads and urban streets. Railroad crossings are another thing to address specifically.
  • Other vehicles. Your teen will have to share the road with cyclists, motorcyclists, transport trucks and other kinds of vehicles. Point these out and the effects they have on traffic and driving patterns.

It can be helpful to keep a driving log that notes the date, time of day and goal of each session to track what you’ve covered with your teen.

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