Teaching a teenager to drive is not an easy task so today, I thought I’d share some of my tips in case you ever find yourself in that position!
I never thought I’d be sharing a post filled with tips to help you if you’re teaching a teenager to drive! Genuinely, I’m not the best driver in the world myself and I never had any intention of teaching my own teens to drive.
But then Lockdown happened!
Miss Frugal was desperate to learn to drive as soon as she turned 17 last September but after a couple of lessons with a local firm, she lost all enthusiasm and was reluctant to book more lessons after the initial block of lessons that we’d paid for were used up. It wasn’t anything major but she wasn’t keen on the instructor and didn’t feel comfortable with them for a couple of different reasons which I won’t go into – don’t worry though, it wasn’t anything too dramatic. 😁
Unfortunately, this meant that she didn’t really want to rebook lessons with just anyone and she was quite keen to have a female instructor but when we looked around, lady instructors were definitely in the minority here and at the time, they seemed quite booked up so we ended up leaving it until the New Year as there was no way I thought I had the skills or patience to even think about teaching a teenager to drive – especially a sassy one like Miss Frugal!
Luckily, not long after she was recommended a guy who a couple of her friends were learning with and loved so I got in touch and we managed to set up some lessons with him, starting mid-February time.
After lesson one, she came home smiling and happy and filled with confidence which, as a parent, is exactly what you want to see – especially at £20+ an hour! 😂 She booked in a weekly lesson and life was good for the next month or so until COVID-19 reared its ugly head and all bets were off. Her lessons stopped as the UK went into Lockdown and that was that.
But as Lockdown and Social Distancing measures continued, we decided to take matters into our own hands and despite the fact that I wasn’t confident that I had the skills, knowledge and especially the patience to teach a teenager to drive, I decided to give it a go.
For reasons that I’ll explain in a minute, I brought forward my plans to buy Miss Frugal a car and after a lot of deliberation, we went for a little second hand, Vauxhall Adam which is a great little first car.
We’ve been learning together for a few months now and she’s really confident and is more than happy driving around town in her little car so I thought I’d share come of you top tips in case you ever find yourself in the position of having to start teaching a teenager to drive.
To be fair, most of these tips would really apply to teaching anyone to drive but genuinely, teaching a teenager to drive is a whole different ball game and needs extra patience and consideration.
10 tips for teaching a teenager to drive
Make sure you’re legal
Before you start, make sure you’re legally allowed to teach someone to drive because there are some quite specific guidelines:
- You need to be at least 21 years old
You need to have held a full driving licence for at least three years
You need to be qualified to drive the same type of car as you’re teaching in, eg a manual or an automatic
- You need to be insured on the car you’re teaching in as well as the person who you’re teaching
You have to meet the minimum eyesight standards
And finally, it’s really important that you’re not being paid unless you’re a qualified driving instructor
If you’re OK with all of the above then you’re ready to read my top tips for teaching a teenager to drive!
Get a good deal on Insurance
So, this one at some point will be a post of its own but basically, you need to make sure you shop around and consider all of your options to get a good price for your car insurance. I got a quote to add her on to my little Fiat 500 with my current provider and it was astronomical but not as expensive as the quote I got to add her to her Dad’s Vauxhall Mokka which was just short of £3ooo!
Both of our insurance companies were super cheap for what we’d needed them for when we bought the policies but clearly, neither of them are fans of young drivers – that second quote is literally more than 10 times the initial policy price!
Out of interest, I did some comparison quotes based on her owning a car and getting the insurance in her own name as a learner driver and was really surprised at some of the prices available – so much so that it made it cheaper to buy an actual car and insure it that way.
I’d always planned on buying her a car when she passed her test, mainly because my Dad always said to her that he would buy her a car the day she could officially drive so when he died, I promised myself that I’d do exactly that in his place so I just accelerated my plans and bought her a car sooner rather than later.
So now, she has her own car to learn in and insurance that cost around £300 as a learner driver. I’ll shop around when it comes to her passing her test but with the same company I have the learner insurance with the premium goes up to around £1100 which is still astronomical but not unaffordable and I’ll still do everything I can to get a better deal when the time comes.
Consider teaching alongside proper lessons
I think my job as a teacher was made so much easier because she’d already had a few lessons and had grasped the basics. I’d always recommend this personally because I found it so much easier than she’d had an understanding of what she needed to do.
I look at our lessons as extra practice with the added bonus of giving her the opportunity to build her confidence and we do plan to start up her lessons again soon so she can master the manoeuvres and make sure I haven’t missed anything with teaching her myself. I don’t think she’ll need many though if I’m honest which is fantastic!
Brush up on your own skills so you don’t pass on bad habits
I know I’m not the best driver and there’s a couple of things that I do that I know I should do so I read up online before I started her lessons to refresh myself – things like the way I position my hands on the wheel and my lack of using the handbrake at junctions could mean that she fails her test if she learns those bad habits so for us, it’s a mix up of ‘do as I say, not as I do’ alongside me trying to be better.
Location, Location, Location
So our first two or three lessons together were on a quiet industrial estate on a night so there was literally us and a couple of other cars driving around the roads. This increased Miss Frugal’s confidence in driving her own car massively and showed me just how much she could do.
We did the three roundabouts on the estate about twenty times each lesson, moved off and stopped about fifty times and pretty much drove the same five or six roads in the estate repeatedly which was essential to me as I don’t have the same luxury of a second set of brakes that her instructor has.
We didn’t leave that estate until she was able to do all the basics really well and had confidence in herself which is a real benefit to me teaching her as that first three lessons that we had on the estate would have set us back around £70 and there was no pressure on me to move her on to the next stage until we were both ready.
Plan your lessons in advance
Teaching someone to drive isn’t just a case of driving around town, there’s lots that someone needs to learn in order to be considered a proficient driver so it’s important that you plan your lesson out in advance. I use this little checklist to help me plan what we’re going to do and also just as a reminder of the things I need to cover.
There are some great tutorials on this site too for each of the things you need to learn to be able to pass your test and more importantly, be a good driver when you do.
That’s not to say that there’s no value in just driving around randomly as that’s when we have our favourite lessons.
Be patient and keep your cool
Learning a whole new skill under pressure (what’s more pressured than being in charge of a moving vehicle) isn’t easy so keep that in mind when your teen doesn’t grasp something straight away or has a lapse in concentration. They want to learn to drive even more than you want to teach them so it’s not deliberate and it probably frustrates them more than it does you so having you shout at them or judge them for not being able to do something – such as driving OVER a roundabout rather than around it – true story!
Don’t have friends along for the ride
So, officially a learner driver can have as many passengers as the car can legally hold but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea, does it? It’s just going to add pressure to your teen as well as take their focus away from driving. We also have a rule that she leaves her mobile at home so there’s no buzzing or vibrating when a message comes through that might take her attention away from the road.
Have a look at what’s included in the test these days
The test has changed massively since I took my test back in the day so I got myself all clued up on what she’s going to have to do so I can help her prepare. The best guide I found to help with that was on the Gov.UK site here.
I’ve pretty much left the Theory Test side of things to her but I do check her understanding of road signs and rules as we drive about.
Don’t force it
I’m lucky as we get along really well when we’re driving and it’s actually really enjoyable and a sneaky way for me to spend more time with her at a time when she’s all about going out with her friends after being stuck at home in Lockdown. It’s time I really value but I do know that if we didn’t gel together in a teacher-pupil kind of way then I’d have to stop and think of a plan b. I remember my brother teaching me to drive and we really didn’t get on in that way so there was one point where I simply got out of the car and walked home. That was the last lesson he gave me. 🤣
Stock up on L Plates
Ok, this might just be us but genuinely, we must be doing something to our L plates that means they have a life span of about two weeks each. We buy the magnetic ones so they can be put on and off easily enough as I sometimes drive us home if we end up too far away as a teenager can apparently only focus for so long and a non-learner isn’t allowed to drive with L plates and they seem to lose all magnetic-ness super quickly.
I’d also recommend having spares with you because obviously it’s illegal for your teen to drive without L plates until they’ve passed their test so if yours somehow un-magnetises itself from the front of the car and attaches itself to the windscreen right at the point that your teen needs to see through to drive safely before flying off into the sunset then you’re either going to need a spare, or you’ll need to drive home.
And yes, I’m speaking from experience. 🤣
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