How to teach your teenager to drive

Lesson Five

Rural Roads

After you feel that your teen has mastered low traffic and urban driving you are ready to try the rural road scenario. Rural roads present a new set of circumstances to the new driver. These roads are typically two narrow lanes, divided only by painted lines. They can have sharp curves and generally don’t have a shoulder to pull onto for safety.

Skills to practice and master:

  • Maintaining proper following distances.
  • Controlled intersections
  • Uncontrolled intersections
  • Maintaining proper speeds
  • Handling curves
  • Passing other vehicles
  • Allowing others to pass
  • Scanning and pointing out various hazards.
Special considerations
  • Animals
  • Limited sight distance
  • Slow moving vehicles
  • Vehicles entering the road from side streets.
It’s important to point out that on graveled country roads taking curves should be approached at a slow rate of speed. Many times the speed limits are unmarked and tight turns at too great a speed can result in the car spinning out of control over the graveled surface; many times the car will flip as it comes out of the spin.

Lesson Six

Highways and Interstates

This driving session takes place on urban and rural highways. Be sure to consider the time of day when picking routes and expose your teen to a variety of traffic situations. Begin in low traffic situations and progress to high traffic. Talk about the route in advance and explain any situations you expect to encounter, like interchanges and construction zones.

Skills to practice and master

  • Entering the roadway
  • Maintaining proper following distances.
  • Maintaining proper speed
  • Changing lanes—always signaling
  • Passing
  • Allowing others to pass
  • Merging with traffic
  • Exiting
  • Scanning for hazards—especially braking hazards
Some things to consider and talk about. Point out that if your teen can’t see the truck drivers face in his or her mirror then you are in his or her blind spot. Trucks drivers have blind spots in front, behind and on both sides of their large vehicles. Don’t follow a truck too closely- stay at least four seconds behind it. This will keep you out of the blind spot and give you a better view of the road.

Lesson Seven

Night Driving

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, more that 40% of teenage motorists deaths happen between the hours of 9 PM and 6 AM. When you think about the great number of social and extracurricular activities for teens that take place at night. the importance of night time driving practice becomes critical.

For the night time scenario, chose streets your teen has previously practiced on. The familiar landmarks and intersections will help him or her to better recognize how things appear differently at night. Some families establish rules about having at least 6 months or more independent driving experience for their teen or friends before they are allowed to drive at night.

Skills to practice and master:

  • Setting mirrors to reduce glare
  • Lights on at twilight
  • Maintaining proper following distances.
  • Maintaining proper speed
  • Use of high beams
  • Avoiding glare from on coming traffic.
  • Controlled intersections
  • Scanning and identifying hazards
  • Determining distances
Special things to consider.
  • Limited sight distances
  • Animals
  • Pedestrians
  • Stopped vehicles
  • Driver fatigue; drowsiness

Lesson Eight

Inclement Weather

Rain snow and ice can make driving hazardous, even for the most experienced drivers. Aiding your teen in gaining experience during poor weather conditions is very important. After you are comfortable woth your teens driving performance in the previous situations, it’s time to move on to inclement weather practice. Chose a rainy, snowy foggy (and if you live in the desert; dust stormy) day and start in a large open parking lot. When you are both ready to go on the main roads, stick to familiar routes.

Skills to master

  • Lights and windshield wipers
  • Braking
  • Proper following distances—3 to 4 times greater than normal.
  • Maintaining a reduced speed
  • Turning
  • Controlled intersections
  • Uncontrolled intersections

Important considerations

  • Use of lights in fog.
  • Use of defogger and defroster
  • Standing water
  • Ice on bridge
  • Stopped vehicles
  • Hydroplaning
  • Talk about what to do if the vehicle gets stuck.
Some states require drivers to turn on their headlights whenever the windshield wipers are on. Even if it’s not a law in your area, it’s a good idea because it increases the likelihood that other drivers will see your vehicle.

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