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g_force

Tips for teaching a new driver?

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I've been waiting this for 15 years and 10 months - my first born turned 15 and got her learner's permit Friday.  Now it's on me to not only teach her to drive, but also teach her to be a good driver.  Tips on what/how I should be teaching her?

 

We're driving her mom's Subie, not the '02 just yet.  The first few days, I put a piece of painter's tape on the hood to line up with the center of her lane/road and we've driven around the neighborhood getting her used to the controls.  I've taught her drive down the center of residential roads unless there's an oncoming car, and to look around corners before she turns.  I've taught her to give pedestrians a wide berth (and to waive!) and to keep at least a door's width from cars parked on the side of the road.  We've also been working on looking ahead (not directly in front of the car), periodically looking in her mirrors and blind spots, and making eye contact with other drivers in her vicinity.  It rained Saturday, so I also took her to an empty parking lot and made her engage the ABS and turn hard enough to understeer.  I also put out a bunch of aluminum cans in the lot and challenged her to run over them. 

 

I think teaching her the boundaries of the vehicle is important, so we'll keep up the aluminum can game and I've got other parking lot games in mind (e.g., cones set up in an autocross-type course of narrowing gates and putting flexible markers in our driveway that she has to park/unpark between).  I also want her to be prepared for and comfortable making emergency maneuvers, so we'll work on that in a parking lot or deserted road once she gets more comfortable with the car. Also, this fall, she'll attend a new driver's defensive driving program the BMWCCA and TireRack put on.  In the next couple of weeks, I'm going to teach her to drive manual.  She'll eventually learn to change a tire, change oil, and jump start a car.

 

Other than the basics (like following distances, using turn signals, driving smoothly, parking) what else should I be teaching her?  I'm looking for tips like:

- keep your wheels straight when waiting to turn left so you don't get pushed into oncoming traffic if rear ended;

- when stopping behind another car, stop so you can see the bottom of its tires so you can pull out from behind it if it's stalled; and

- don't drive next to the double yellow line of a divided road, so you don't head on with an oncoming driver who veers just slightly over the double line.

 

What else?

 

 

 

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Assume the other drivers (and pedestrians and bicyclists) don't see you and will act accordingly.

 

Cheers,

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Take her to the go kart track and let her drive the rental karts for a while.

 

When I was teaching my ex to ride motorcycles on the street, I would point out every stupid little thing I did to stay alive- stopping in the tire tracks at the light, not in the center (all the dripping oil from old cars!), watching this, watching that, watching the cars behind me when I stopped to make sure they were stopping too (literally turning around and looking at them, and keeping it in gear until then), if you can see them or if they can see you they're out to get you...  But really, track days were the biggest help for everyone I taught to ride moto.  So many times I heard,"If I had done this before I crashed, I wouldn't have crashed."  Target fixation.  Yeah, all track day stuff.

 

My wife is learning to drive RWD and sideways in the snow- so we try to practice that a lot.  Low speed (15mph) 2nd gear, really slow around the neighborhood.  But lots of practice.  So much fun.  First time was in the truck in the school parking lot.

 

Oh, and the brakes aren't always the answer in a tight situation.  Sometimes the gas pedal is the best way to not get hit or hit something.

 

I also heard some statistic about for every extra kid in the car, the odds of a crash goes up an order of magnitude- something like that.

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(edited)

Thanks Ray and Dave. 

 

I agree on the go-karting.  The local "fun center" had a season pass deal that gives you 5 rides per visit.  Realizing she would be behind the wheel soon, I bought that for us last year. They've got a traditional track with a bridge, a slick track dusted in talc, and "fast" track (just better tuned fun karts, not the 60mph karts).  We went about half a dozen times, which more than paid for the season passes.  We spent most of our rides on the traditional and slick track.  She had a blast and it turns out she's pretty competitive, but her younger sister is even more competitive.  Maybe we'll go to the 60mph kart track this year. 

 

We're definitely going to hit an autocross after she's got some hours behind the wheel.  I was taken to an autocross when I was 16, and like your track days story, it was a big help for me.  I started autocrossing as much as I could afford, and it made me a much better driver than my peers.  Autocross is good because the track is typically narrow, curvy and not always easy to immediately understand, so it not only helps with car control, it helps in learning the boundaries of the car and learning to look and think ahead.

 

On thinking ahead, we've just started driving on major streets with other cars.  I'll occasionally ask her to name the mfgr/model of the car two cars ahead.  I'll also identify a nearby car, and ask her what she thinks it's about to do.  Any other thoughts on how to get her looking/thinking ahead?

 

 

Edited by g_force

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That all sounds good. 

 

There are online defensive driving courses available which may enable insurance discounts.Twenty bucks for the 4 hour course may net you a 10% premium discount (though all drivers on your policy may need to take it). If this link works, it's a preview to the NSC course:

 

https://www.safetyserve.com/finesource/elearning/courses/titles/DDC10Demo/index.html

 

You can't speed thru the course pages, which drove me a bit crazy :)

 

Cheers,

 

 

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I've always told new drivers to assume that they are responsible for the actions of 5 cars.  The one they are in, the ones in front and behind, and the ones on both sides.  You can only control one of the five but you always have to know what the other four are doing.

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All good tips so far!

Is the Subie a manual? If not, I would actually advocate switching to the 2002 (or other manual) sooner rather than later.  Once automatic driving habits take hold, it's MUCH harder to lean how to properly drive a 3-pedal car.  Other way around though is a complete non-issue!

I would also repeatedly hammer home the simple 'eyes up!' mantra to get her in the habit of always looking down the road instead of at the bumper of the car in front of her, and thus keeping her situation awareness up.  A small piece of tape on the windshield to 'always be looking above this line' can help here too, but probably only needed if she seems to have difficulty with this.

On the technical side, I liked one one instructor once told me, which was to imagine there's a string tied from the very bottom of the steering wheel to the top of your right toe. So that if you turn the steering wheel, the string pulls your foot up, aka you need to have the wheels straight to be hard on either the gas or the brake.

And finally a +1 for CCA or TireRack's Street Survival courses (plus they're so fun!)

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As for being able to pay attention to whats around...  One needs to develop the ability to (operate the vehicle) subconsciously- once that becomes natural then the awareness can be pushed out further.  Until (driving) becomes natural it's hard to be aware of much else...  So, I'd say spend lots of time practicing (driving) every day so that it becomes more natural sooner.  Every day.

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Thanks, all, for the input.  Teaching driving has been going well. 

 

She's now much more comfortable behind the wheel.  Unfortunately, school has started and she's now busy with school work and after school activities. She drives us every chance we get, but her driving has gone from an hour or so a day to 15 minutes here and there. 

 

We're having a good time driving together, and talk about driving even when I'm driving.  I need to remember to do as I say, though, because she's watching and, in typical snarky teen fashion, freely doles out the criticism.😀  We have a running joke.  When I remind her what she should be doing, and she gets frustrated because she either is or thinks she is doing it, I respond, "I'm not telling you what to do.  I'm narrating."  She seems to enjoy "narrating" my driving.  

 

Also, I've learned that the October Street Survival course is the same day as homecoming, so we're not going to make that one.  I think the next nearby one is in January, which won't be too bad.  We still haven't tried manual - mostly because the AC on my track car (yes, she's going to learn manual on a stripped, half-caged, dedicated track car) wasn't cooling well and it's August in Texas.  Soon, though, it will cool off or maybe I'll have time to recharge the system (and will remember to run it more regularly in the future).

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