Prepping for a smooth drive.
Before you set off
Check that you’re both in the right mindset. If you’re more than a little anxious or upset, it isn’t the right time to be instructing a driver. Likewise, if they’re more than a little nervous or stressed they shouldn’t be behind the wheel. Reschedule to ensure a safe and caring learning environment.
Set the car up right. If you’re using the family car chances are dad has longer legs than your 16 year old daughter. So is the seat right, the mirrors in the right place and the steering wheel in the correct position? If it’s the first drive, make sure they also know what all the buttons and levers do.
Make a plan on where you’re heading. Then check if the driver knows where they are going. We all know the stress of being in the wrong lane so check they know the streets and what direction to take. As their experience and confidence grows you can move on to less instruction but more is good in the beginning. But, in a safe space before you begin driving rather than pointing directions when the car is in motion.
On the drive
Try to stay relaxed and calm. This should be some fun as well – it’s a big milestone for everyone. When you do need to give feedback, make sure it’s timely and you’re specific. Also, let them know what to do next time. For example: ‘When you merged just now, the right of way was to the car already in the lane. Next time, just slow down and let them go in front.’
Keep distractions to a minimum. Don’t bring up their messy bedroom. The driver’s attention needs to be on the road at all times, and yours should be as well. If you’re missing some noise, the driver could commentate their drive if they feel comfortable. This could give you both insight into the thought and decision process playing out as well.
Keep checking on their mood and confidence. Pull over somewhere safe if you need to. Dealing with hazards on the road, aggressive or impatient drivers can be stressful. Have a chat about it and wait until everyone is calm before continuing.
When you’ve arrived
Ask the driver for their thoughts first. How did it go? Were there times they felt uncomfortable? Is there anything they could have done differently? This will hopefully lead into a good discussion. Let them know what you think went well. Focus on the good stuff first to help with their confidence.
Then it’s time to point out where you think improvements could be made. You could even make a plan for the next lesson. For example, if they didn’t quite make that reverse park – make a date to go to the nearest parking lot and practice in the corner.
Set some homework that you could do as a family. If you’re having a healthy discussion about the road rules, look them up together or watch a video online. This way you’ll both be on the right page next time you go out.
We hope this helps when it’s next time to get out on the road. The Keys2drive website also have some great downloadable resources for supervisors as well.