Listen to the experts
There was a time when late night ad breaks on the telly were peppered with earnest-looking
Government officials harping on about mismatched tyres, or showing us terrifying slow-mo footage of crash test dummies. Thankfully, we're pretty much left to our own common sense nowadays, but there's still a lot to be said for a spot of insider knowledge from the experts - especially when it comes to helping to teach a young person to drive.
The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) says, "It's important not to put learners in situations beyond their current level of ability - the result could be dangerous for them, and other road users. Work on one thing at a time, starting with the basics then gradually adding new skills. Stay calm, and offer advice when needed. Remember that things you might find easy can be very difficult for new drivers."
Meanwhile, Sgt Paul Masterson of Sussex Police Road Policing Unit, points out that, "all motorists develop bad habits, but young drivers are particularly prone to developing poor technique as they are still formulating their own driving style. Many young people think that a driving licence represents authorisation to drive in any way they see fit."
Sgt Masterson believes that it's crucial to also support young drivers' progress outside of the practicalities of three-point-turns and mirrors, signal, manoeuvre, "As a parent, you should let your son or daughter know that passing the driving test is really the beginning of the process, there is a long road ahead before they can call themselves a safe, experienced and responsible driver."
Some parents find that it's useful to take a short course before they say their prayers and climb into the passenger seat with their young learner. Lancashire County Council, for example, runs a free scheme called Pre Pass Support that is designed to help accompanying drivers when they take learners out on the road. It's a one day course incorporating both theory and practical sessions and it'll help you sharpen up skills such as:
- The difficulties your learner might face
- Your role and responsibilities (and what the professional instructor should cover)
- How to avoid conflicting advice
- Which areas are of greater risk for the learner driver
Admittedly, carrying out all of the above might seem like you've finally become that earnest road safety official from late night TV, but you've already invested at least 17 years and countless thousands of pounds in your son or daughter's safety - this last push might just set him or her up for a lifetime of safe driving.