Like their first day of uni or a new job, seeing your teen drive for the first time can make you feel incredibly proud. After all, this rite of passage is a huge step towards independence. At least, it is if they can get through those lessons and tests.
For some teens, the idea of lessons alone can be so daunting that they never even take this plunge. After all, getting in a car with a stranger goes against everything you’ve ever told them! Shy kids, especially, simply struggle to get past that hurdle.
Hence why you may be wondering whether it’s worth trying to teach them yourself. The trouble is that, as anyone who’s tried it will tell you, teaching in this manner isn’t always easy. In fact, arguments due to this approach are so common that there are countless comedy sketches about it!
It isn’t as though no one can successfully teach their teen to drive, more that it takes a certain type of person to do it well. To determine whether you fall into that category, it’s worth asking yourself these questions before either of you get behind the wheel.
1 – ARE YOU LEGALLY ALLOWED TO TEACH?
While there is no law to stop unofficial lessons, there are laws in place to ensure that the teacher in question is suitable. After all, kids teaching kids could end in a whole load of new road risks and bad habits!
Hence why, legally, you can only teach someone to drive if –
- You’re over 21
- You’ve held a valid license in the form you’re teaching for 4+ years
Your driver themselves must also be –
- 16 years or older
- A holder of a provisional license
- Covered by your insurance policy
It’s also fundamental to note that any vehicle being used for teaching purposes must display visible L plates throughout a lesson.
Without these legal essentials, teaching could not only leave your teen’s knowledge lacking but could land you both either in an accident or in some pretty severe legal trouble.
2 – ARE YOU CALM ENOUGH TO COPE?
Even the calmest person in the world has snapped during a home-taught driving lesson. The fact is that it can be surprisingly difficult to teach something that you do almost without thinking. Worse, there’s a lot at stake for your teen getting things right, meaning that fear alone may see you snapping, shouting, or otherwise losing your cool. Unfortunately, this is no way to productive learning, and it’s going to leave both of you rueing the day you ever agreed to this setup.
Avoid that eventuality by making sure that you can keep your calm before that all-important health and safety comes into play. The best way to do that is to think, honestly, about how you react to pressure. Do you have a short fuse, or do you take a calm, patient approach? Perhaps test this out by trying to teach a family member who can already drive. This has the benefit of keeping everyone safe but, if they pretend that they’re starting from scratch, you can test out how calmly you relay information/how you react if they don’t understand what you’re trying to say.
3 – IS YOUR KNOWLEDGE GOOD ENOUGH?
For obvious reasons, you need to have held your current license for at least four years before you can teach. The trouble is that you can forget a whole lot and develop a load of bad driving habits in four years.
Let’s be honest; we all hold our steering wheels in ways that would send our driving instructors mad, and most of us entirely forget the driving rules that we don’t use during our standard driving excursions.
This isn’t typically a problem, but any gaps in your knowledge or general bad habits will become pretty glaring issues when your teen finally takes their driving test. In fact, something as simple as not holding the wheel in the right formation could be a fail, and worse, it won’t be their fault. Even if issues aren’t picked up during their test itself, certain bad habits or knowledge voids could leave them, and other drivers, at risk on the road.
With that in mind, it’s fundamental that you consider your skill set before embarking on any teaching journey. We aren’t saying that you need to resit your test or anything, but turning to a few online resources and brushing up on the basics can make a huge difference to passing on the right knowledge. You may also find it beneficial to drive roads or attempt maneuvers that you don’t typically tackle. That way, your muscle memory will most likely kick in and see your driving back up to test standard again in no time.
4 – DO YOU KNOW WHERE TO GO?
Most driving instructors do the same routes depending on where in their journey each learner driver is. After all, it wouldn’t do much good to take a first-timer to a busy highway straight off the bat. Equally, sticking to quiet roads all the time is never going to harness a broad enough range of driving capabilities.
As such, anyone seeking to teach this skill should think first about where they could take a learner driver at each stage. Selecting quiet roads, tackling roundabouts, and building up to busy highways are all crucial stepping stones. But, if you can’t for the life of you think of suitable areas, then your teaching career is unlikely to ever get off the ground.
A final word
Teaching a teen to drive is never easy, especially when they’re your flesh and blood. You can certainly guarantee that there will be a few arguments and tantrums along the way. That’s normal when you both care about something so much. That said, success still rides a great deal on your teaching capability, meaning that you need to be honest about whether you’ve passed this test, and what that means for both of you.