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Teaching kids to drive

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Teaching kids to drive

Post by Blackhawk »

Both of my kids are old enough to drive, and it is way past time for me to teach them. The problem is that I have no clue how to do so.

Here's how I learned to drive. My father took me out one night when I was 13 and let me drive about a mile on a back road. Three months later he needed to transport a car from Fresno to Reno, so he drove us both down there and had me follow him. One mile of straight-road driving, followed by a solo trip 300 miles through Sacramento and over the Sierras. Why I didn't die - hell, why my father didn't end up in jail - is beyond me. But by the time I got to Reno six hours later, I knew how to drive, and just needed to polish up on a few of the technicalities. I drove regularly from the time I was 13 until I got my license.

Now that I'm needing to teach my own kids to drive, I find that my experience has left me with no clue as to the process. Where do you teach them without endangering other drivers? How do you ensure they don't panic and plow into a tree? I honestly have no clue.

And don't say driving school. I've looked at the driving school options, and even if COVID wasn't a thing, I don't have the kind of money they're wanting.
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Re: Teaching kids to drive

Post by ImLawBoy »

We had drivers' ed in high school. If that's not an option, you should probably look into getting them learner's permits. To get that they'd have to at least pass a test so that they know the basics of the rules of the road (I'm guessing).

When we would practice driving, we'd either drive around our neighborhood (speed limit was 20mph) or on the campus of a nearby community college when school wasn't in session.
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Re: Teaching kids to drive

Post by Anonymous Bosch »

I'd suggest following the recommendations from Popular Mechanics:

15 Tips for Teaching a Teenager to Drive
PopularMechanics.com wrote:If you are the instructor, start by telling your student that [1] THE HANDS ON THE WHEEL SHOULD BE AT 3 O'CLOCK AND 9 O'CLOCK (not 2 and 10). This allows for maximum rotation with minimal exertion—meaning greater control.

[2] RELAXED ARMS ALSO INCREASE CONTROL. "Why?" your pupil might ask. The answer is that relaxed muscles respond faster than tense ones. On the flip side, many factors decrease control; a chief one is distracted driving.

[3] TELL YOUR STUDENT TO STAY FOCUSED, WHICH OFTEN TRANSLATES TO "PUT THE SMARTPHONE OUT OF REACH." Using one behind the wheel robs you of 37 percent of the brain power that could otherwise be applied to driving, according to a Carnegie Mellon University study.

Have you ever met a teenager who responds well to scolding? Okay, so when you're giving a lesson, [4] KEEP THE MOOD LIGHT. To do this

[5] IGNORE SLIP-UPS AND PRAISE GOOD PRACTICES. ("Nice lane position. I like how you keep checking your mirrors.") Positive reinforcement makes good habits stick. If that's too soft for you, consider this:

[6] NOTHING TEACHES A DRIVER HOW TO DEAL WITH A CRISIS LIKE PARKING-LOT DONUTS. Instructor Bill Wade of Tire Rack Street Survival suggests having a student driver push a car to extremes on a deserted asphalt expanse.

For example, [7] WITH THE CAR UP TO SPEED, GIVE THE ORDER TO TURN ABRUPTLY AND KEEP ACCELERATING; sharp cornering and even skidding in a controlled environment beats doing those things in an emergency. If the car skids (that is, oversteers), the car's weight shifts forward and the rear end fishtails.

[8] DURING OVERSTEER, TELL YOUR PUPIL TO TAP THE BRAKES AND SLOWLY TURN THE AWAY FROM THE DIRECTION OF THE SKID in order to regain control.

Now [9] HAVE YOUR STUDENT GET THE CAR ROLLING AT 30 MPH OR SO, AND MASH THE BRAKE PEDAL TO THE FLOORBOARD. Your pupil will learn the odd, pulsing feeling of the antilock braking system—and to keep applying pressure in spite of it.

Wade says to [10] GIVE VACANT-LOT LESSONS IN ALL WEATHER CONDITIONS SO THE DRIVER CAN FIND OUT HOW THE CAR BEHAVES ON WET, ICY, OR SNOWY PAVEMENT.

The last can also help teach parallel parking: [11] SET UP TWO CONES IN THE LOT ABOUT 20 FEET APART, AND AFTER YOUR STUDENT GUIDES THE CAR INTO PLACE, HAVE HIM OR HER GET OUT AND LOOK AT THE TRACKS IN THE SNOW—visual evidence of a job well done.

When your student graduates to the road, [12] INSTRUCT HIM OR HER TO SCAN FOR "EXIT POINTS"; VEERING INTO A GRASSY MEDIA IS PREFERABLE TO A COLLISION. This sounds obvious, but there's an exception:

[13] IF AN ANIMAL RUNS INTO THE CAR'S PATH, A DRIVER IS MORE LIKELY TO AVOID PERSONAL INJURY BY HITTING THE CRITTER THAN BY JERKING THE WHEEL TO AVOID IT. This rule is void if the animal is a moose.

Encourage your student to [14] LEARN TO DRIVE STICK. It enhances the feeling of human and machine working in harmony and increases confidence.

Finally, [15] CONSIDER PRO LESSONS. At the Skip Barber Racing School, for instance, young drivers go from the classroom to the test track to learn such things as accident avoidance at high speeds. Arrive alive!
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Re: Teaching kids to drive

Post by Isgrimnur »

Moose are the Mongols of nature.

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Re: Teaching kids to drive

Post by Kraken »

I grew up in MI, the land of cars, so drivers ed was a (free) rite of passage in HS. That it should be otherwise bewilders me. Until cars learn to drive themselves, driving is a core life skill.

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Re: Teaching kids to drive

Post by Blackhawk »

ImLawBoy wrote:
Sat Aug 01, 2020 11:53 pm
We had drivers' ed in high school.
That's one of the many, many classes they've ended. They've ended driver's ed, all computer classes except for basic typing, most of their foreign languages (all that's left is Spanish), and any number of others.

I'll look into the other suggestions.
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Re: Teaching kids to drive

Post by stessier »

Huge parking lot at the local high school was my first lesson with my father on a learner's permit. Nowadays, mall parking lots are probably as empty... Especially early morning on Sundays.
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Re: Teaching kids to drive

Post by RunningMn9 »

My guess is that a lot of this depends on the rules of the state. When I was growing up here in NJ, you took drivers ed in HS, which covered the material you needed to know for the written test, as well as actually driving around (which in our case, consisted of driving the instructor around town to conduct errands for him). They used a specially modified vehicle that had a second set of brakes that the instructor could use to avoid certain death.

By the time my kids got to that age, they still had to take drivers ed in school, but that solely consists of passing the written portion of the driver's test. Once they pass the written test at age 16, if they want a learner's permit, they must take 6 hours of driving lessons through a driving school. That permit lets them drive around with an adult in the car. That's where I came in, to continue to teach them.

I was taught through basically being either yelled at or made fun of while driving. I didn't care for those methods, so I tried real hard to be reasonable to keep them from stressing out. They both learned to drive. Basically, any time they had to go somewhere, they drove, with me providing corrections when necessary (in a low key voice). My only rule was that if I yell "STOP" it's because our death is imminent and they need to stop what they are doing. I eventually had to develop a second rule which was that if I yell "GO" it's because our death is imminent, and they need to start doing something (they both had a tendency to hesitate when pulling out into an intersection, and nearly killed me several times).

They are now both licensed drivers, so the process sort of worked. They are still going to make mistakes and get dings in the car. And it's terrifying as a parent to have then just drive away (that took about a year to go away). But you just let them have that freedom and hope.
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Re: Teaching kids to drive

Post by LawBeefaroni »

Kraken wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 12:22 am
I grew up in MI, the land of cars, so drivers ed was a (free) rite of passage in HS. That it should be otherwise bewilders me. Until cars learn to drive themselves, driving is a core life skill.
I grew up in MI top but went to a private high school so had to get private driver's ed.

Living on the edge of the country I was driving a pickup truck by the time I was 13 or so and a manual transmission tractor before I could get a license. I cut my teeth on icy, unplowed dirt roads in the winter. However, my driving instructor had a daughter who was killed in a car accident a few years earlier, in her teens, so my driver's ed experience was extremely sobering and I got a lot out of it, especially recognizing the heavy burden of responsibility that driving a car is. Every time you get behind the wheel.


I guess the main thing is to impress on kids the great, but completely manageable, responsibility they take on any time they drive. Always be learning to improve.


Empty parking lots are the best place to start, to gain confidence and experience. There should be plenty of empty parking lots these days.
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Re: Teaching kids to drive

Post by Jaymann »

I took my daughter to an empty church parking lot and let her drive the Ford Explorer around in circles. My son had no interest in driving until the was in his twenties. His experience with Need for Speed carried the day, although it was months before he would drive on the freeway.
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Re: Teaching kids to drive

Post by AWS260 »

We have 6 years before this become an issue, but I don't know how we're going to do it. We don't even own a car. I'll probably have to ask my father-in-law to borrow his.

Also, as someone who learned to drive on the wide, pedestrian-free streets of a Midwestern suburb, the idea of my kid learning in New York City is mildly terrifying.

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Re: Teaching kids to drive

Post by Blackhawk »

I remember when they had driver's ed in high school here, but it's been at least six or eight years since they cancelled it. The only driving schools around here charge $400 per kid, and we'd have to find a way to get them to the cities that offer them each day (so at least $1000 total by the time it's all done.) It's optional in Indiana, and only allows you to get your license six months earlier (16 1/4 vs 16 3/4.)

I started my youngest on the driver's manual this morning. I'll be teaching him first, as I'm still very leery of teaching my oldest. He's also the type to freeze or panic under unexpected pressure, which is why we've waited until he's (almost) 19 to even consider it. I'll have to approach it very, very cautiously, and will have to be ready to pull the plug if I ever question whether he can handle it once we've started. And it will be a while before he practices on public roads.

One hindrance is that there aren't any big, deserted lots anywhere near here. There aren't even any big, full lots.

AWS260 wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 9:51 am
We don't even own a car. I'll probably have to ask my father-in-law to borrow his.
I own a car, but I'm still borrowing one. There's no way I'm teaching my kids to drive in a car with no rear view mirror, no dash lights, no working as gauge, no defrosters, no working wipers, and a myriad of other problems.
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Re: Teaching kids to drive

Post by dbt1949 »

My dad tied to teach me. That was really terrifying. So I ended up with drivers ed in high school. Which gave my parents a discount on their insurance.
In my parents time they were just given a drivers license without any tests.
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Re: Teaching kids to drive

Post by Daehawk »

Just ride with them and let them do it.

At 14 dad would let me drive the van down a dirt road as we left my grandparents home. It was maybe a 1/4 a mile. Did that maybe 4 times.

At 15 me and my best friend borrowed his parents car and I drove around the neighborhood.

At 16 I had drivers ed but that really didn't teach me anything I didn't already know except some strange signs and parallel parking. ..which I must say has never taken me more than one try. :)

Also at 16 I failed my first drivers license test due to nervous a cop sat beside me, I had to drive my mom's block long fleetwood caddy instead of my dad's van, and a bum walked in front of me while doing a normal parking.

At 17 I got my first car. Dad had picked it and I had to pay for it. When we got there it was a manual. This was 1986 and it was a 1974 Toyota Corolla SR5. Miss it. Id barely seen one before and had no idea how to drive it other than common sense. He drove from the car lot to his sisters and then told me to drive from there. I did. Had to. Was forced to. Drove us home and after that over the next week he sat in the car while I drove around the neighborhood two different times. Then I was on my own. This was without a working tach even. Got that fixed and he simply dropped me off to get my car and left me. I drove from then on.

I have always LOVED driving. Driven auto since that car but can still do it as in 2017 I drove my cousin's manual truck home for him. Its like a bike..once you learn you can drive anything. Heck at 17 on a job I moved a semi in a lot for someone. Gimmi 10 min and I can drive whatever ya put me in even if its weird.

You said you have no large parking lots....but what about a closed Walmart or a high school?
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Re: Teaching kids to drive

Post by naednek »

Do I see another Sacramento road trip? :)
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Re: Teaching kids to drive

Post by Blackhawk »

Nope. The Wal-Mart is tiny and shares a parking lot with McDonald's, so it doesn't clear out until after midnight, and the school gates their large lots when school isn't in session.

It's likely going to have to be back roads rather than open spaces.
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Re: Teaching kids to drive

Post by Isgrimnur »

Fire up Grand Theft Auto, and see how well they can actually manage the rules of the road.

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Re: Teaching kids to drive

Post by Daehawk »

Seems its always more nerve wracking on the teacher / parent than the kid :)
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Re: Teaching kids to drive

Post by Blackhawk »

Isgrimnur wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 12:27 pm
Fire up Grand Theft Auto, and see how well they can actually manage the rules of the road.
Hah! It's actually crossed my mind in the past as to whether GTA V in first person might not be a good teaching tool. I haven't gone so far as to say yes, but it's got potential! :wink:
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Re: Teaching kids to drive

Post by Torfish »

I taught each of my three kids to drive the same way.

At 15, I took them to a church parking lot. In between driving in the parking log, I explained the rules of the road and how to take care of a car. We probably took about 6-8 sessions. Sessions were one hour. Don't overload them with information. Next started having them drive on country "safe" roads with little traffic. Progress when comfortable to heavier traffic, in town, and then highway last. Takes about 4-6 months. Get their learning permit at 16. Then you need a certain number of day and night time driving hours with an adult. I did their hours when I got off work. So freaking boring for me and sometimes nerve racking, but it was an investment to them.

I did not allow them to get their license until their 17th birthday. 16 is too young for being on the road alone. The other 17th birthday present was they could take the car themselves and drive to school and work.

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Re: Teaching kids to drive

Post by Jeff V »

Taught my wife to drive in the parking lot of the 5-story office building where I used to work. We'd go on weekends when there was little traffic. There were stop signs, roads not straight, etc. And we did this in winter when conditions were shitty at best. Eventually we left the parking lot for some neighborhood roads, and when she was confident in the basics, to major roads.

I had driver's ed in school, but my mom would take me to the cemetery to practice, figuring I wouldn't kill anyone not already dead. I've since been in some cemeteries that had posted signs "no driving practice" or some such.

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Re: Teaching kids to drive

Post by Scuzz »

I had my kids drive around the neighborhood and get on and off the freeway that runs near our house. I also took them to a large parking lot that was empty on weekends and had them learn to back up straight and learn to park. It helps them get an idea how big the car is. One of my kids is a very good calm driver, the other has been in accidents and is kinda scary. So it depends on the kids development and personality.

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Re: Teaching kids to drive

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Is everybody teaching them how to parallel park?
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Re: Teaching kids to drive

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dbt1949 wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 4:16 pm
Is everybody teaching them how to parallel park?
If you do that we cant get funny videos! :)

Drivers Ed had that in it's chamber. They had it set up in the HS parking lot. They told us how to do it. Showed us. Then we had to do it once. That was it. Luckily I guess Im good at it :)
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Re: Teaching kids to drive

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dbt1949 wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 4:16 pm
Is everybody teaching them how to parallel park?
I will be, but I'm going to have to refresh myself, first. I haven't lived in a city with enough traffic to need it in 20 years. I genuinely can't remember the last time I parallel parked.
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Re: Teaching kids to drive

Post by gilraen »

Torfish wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 1:26 pm
Then you need a certain number of day and night time driving hours with an adult. I did their hours when I got off work. So freaking boring for me and sometimes nerve racking, but it was an investment to them.
Looks like Indiana requires 50 logged hours of driving.

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Re: Teaching kids to drive

Post by Daehawk »

The only place I parallel park is the town center of our town. The entire area almost is parallel parking. Other than that area nothing anywhere.
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Re: Teaching kids to drive

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I don't think I've parallel parked in 40 years. I'm not sure its worth teaching.
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Re: Teaching kids to drive

Post by hitbyambulance »

Blackhawk wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 4:23 pm
dbt1949 wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 4:16 pm
Is everybody teaching them how to parallel park?
I will be, but I'm going to have to refresh myself, first. I haven't lived in a city with enough traffic to need it in 20 years. I genuinely can't remember the last time I parallel parked.
get it right every single time:
Pull alongside the car ahead of the space you want. Align your rear axle with that car's bumper. Turn the wheel toward the curb at full lock.
Back up until the center of your inside rear tire aligns with the streetside edge of the forward car. Straighten wheel, continue to reverse.
When your outside tire aligns with that same edge, turn the wheel the other way.
If all went according to plan, you're in the space, bodywork intact. Get out and admire your work.
also gleaned from reddit:
Assetto Corsa. Download some mods for some old crappy slow cars, and download a track that is just a mountain road. That would be the best driving sim for teaching someone how to drive.
kinda like: https://assettocorsa.club/mods/auto/lada-vaz-2101.html

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Re: Teaching kids to drive

Post by ImLawBoy »

dbt1949 wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 9:56 pm
I don't think I've parallel parked in 40 years. I'm not sure its worth teaching.
Depends where the kids are going to live. Streets in Chicago are lined with cars parallel parked. If you can't parallel park, you need to find a garage (and they ain't cheap).
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Re: Teaching kids to drive

Post by dbt1949 »

Well, here in Hogeye..................
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Re: Teaching kids to drive

Post by Kraken »

ImLawBoy wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 11:28 pm
dbt1949 wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 9:56 pm
I don't think I've parallel parked in 40 years. I'm not sure its worth teaching.
Depends where the kids are going to live. Streets in Chicago are lined with cars parallel parked. If you can't parallel park, you need to find a garage (and they ain't cheap).
Yeah, it's a critical skill in any populated area.

I taught Wife to drive (a stick) in Ithaca, NY, aka The City of Icy Hills. She learned on my '74 Mustang II that liked to spit out second gear. I told her "If you can learn to drive here, you can drive anywhere." She did, and I was right.

Even though she's the kind of driver who's prone to scrapes and dents and the occasional popped tire, she excels at parallel parking. I'm OK at it because a Miata has wiggle room in any open space. But I usually do need to wiggle a bit because I'm fussy about my wheels and curbs.

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Re: Teaching kids to drive

Post by Anonymous Bosch »

It may also be prudent to invest in a decent guide book to help make sure your kids drive safely, e.g. here's one authored by a state trooper:

Driving With A Teenage Brain: A State Trooper's Notes On How To Stay Alive
Amazon.com wrote:Enlarge Image

A common-sense driving book for teenagers, which recognizes and addresses the difference between the teen brain and that of an adult.

Parents, investing in this book for your teen will teach them how to survive while learning to drive rather than becoming another teenage statistic. It won’t teach them how to parallel park, make a three-point turn or how to pass a written test. They can easily learn these skills elsewhere. This book will provide the tools for your teen to recognize and avoid hazardous situations and unsafe drivers. It will show them how to train their inexperienced, teenage brains to make safe, split-second decisions when life-threatening events occur. In this book I have shared the knowledge gained over many years of driving, to help keep your teen alive while driving. Now help them to understand and apply this knowledge. Don’t just give them this book. Make sure they read it. Quiz them on it, especially the chapter on Defensive Driving.

---

About the Author
As a New York State trooper, the author investigated more than 1,100 motor vehicle accidents, many involving serious injuries and death. In addition to determining the cause of each accident, he had the opportunity to observe the crashworthiness of hundreds of vehicles of various sizes and designs. He then attended law school and continued his police career with a large metropolitan police department as a legal advisor and academy instructor. In that capacity, he reviewed many fatal automobile accident investigations. He has driven almost 900,000 accident-free miles using the experience gained over 28 years in police work. His knowledge, observations and techniques are found in the pages of this book.
"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." -- Daniel Webster

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Isgrimnur
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Re: Teaching kids to drive

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dbt1949
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Re: Teaching kids to drive

Post by dbt1949 »

In the army every time a major holiday came up they'd show us movies of crashed cars and dead bodies courtesy of the Ohio State Police.
We'd bring popcorn and sodas.
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gameoverman
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Re: Teaching kids to drive

Post by gameoverman »

I've taught people to drive cars and ride motorcycles. I did this informally, not as a job. My approach:
1. Explain the basic functions of the vehicle with the vehicle shut off and parked. I stressed that the car was a tool, like a knife or a pair of scissors, and it would not do anything unless the driver either made the car do it or the driver took their hands off the steering wheel and let the car do something random. The idea was to make sure they understood the car doesn't have a mind of its own, the driver is in charge.
2. Test them on their knowledge of the controls. Which pedal is the brake? Place the driver's seat in a random position and move all the mirrors around. Now make them sit in the driver's seat and adjust it to the position that fits them and make them adjust the mirrors to the appropriate positions, and check to see what they can see and that it's right. This builds confidence in them and makes them feel like they are in total control of all aspects of the car.
3. Once you are convinced they know the controls, take them to an empty parking lot or other flat, open, driveable area. I like early Sunday mornings for this because that's the time and day with the least amount of people around. I start by having them drive the car SLOWLY forward with me in the passenger seat. At random times I'll yell at them "STOP!" and see what they do. If they get flustered or hesitate on pushing the brake- they aren't ready. Go back to step 1.
4. If they can creep along and respond to emergency stop commands, then the next step is to have them turn the car. So once again, get them to slowly drive the car forward and give them a 'turn left' or 'turn right' command as appropriate to where you are. Allow them to keep turning until you are pointed back in the direction you came from. Then tell them to drive straight. Once back where you started have them stop and congratulate them on a job well done since you're both still alive.
5. After that you just keep giving them new things to do while you have them drive around the parking lot. When you think they're ready, increase the speed. Have them drive around at 20-25mph. I'd do stuff like say "Drive at 25mph to that spot, then slow down enough to turn right until we're pointed that way, then drive forward at 25mph until we reach that spot, then stop". If at any time they seem confused or hesitant, go back to the beginning or at least Step 3. When they can competenty drive around the practice lot at around 25-35mph then they have passed the audition.
6. You can take them on the road and show them what they will need to know to pass the tests. Even here in high population density southern California I have no trouble finding empty roads, I'm sure you can do the same.

The main thing, no matter what you do, is don't freak out! Freaking out helps no one. Showing frustration helps no one. Criticizing them does not help them. Your job is to help them learn. They will make mistakes. They will scare you by doing something unexpected. They might panic. You can do none of those things. You must be focused, positive, and unperturbed at all times. It's not that hard.

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Blackhawk
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Re: Teaching kids to drive

Post by Blackhawk »

Thanks, everyone. And there are tons of straight, flat roads around here that are more-or-less empty. I'm still brainstorming a parking lot. I have one idea, but it isn't huge, and I'll need to take a better look when I can get out there. It's a hospital that's been closed for probably 15 years, and I need to make sure it isn't full of nails and broken glass.
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dbt1949
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Re: Teaching kids to drive

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The first thing you need to show them is where to put in the gas and how to pay for it.
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Jeff V
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Re: Teaching kids to drive

Post by Jeff V »

Blackhawk wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 12:12 am
I need to make sure it isn't full of nails and broken glass.
Changing flat tires is another skill that's part of driving.

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Paingod
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Re: Teaching kids to drive

Post by Paingod »

It may have been mentioned elsewhere, but if you're teaching stick, be sure to give it a good analogy.

My mother tried to teach me on her old pickup. Her explanation was "Let the clutch out and push in the gas at the same time" - which is exactly what I did. I always either stalled or peeled out. I had to try half a dozen times on every hill. Didn't help that the truck required a lot of push to get the clutch in and it happily sprang out. She gave up and I said "Standard transmissions are just shit" and never tried again.

My wife later said "It's like a dimmer switch. As you ease up off the clutch, push in the gas until you feel it catch and then let the clutch go" ... which made it actually possible for me to drive a standard.
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