While learning to drive is a big moment in your teen’s life, having a new driver in the house can be stressful!

Though driving schools like Freedom Drivers Ed in Englewood give teens a strong foundation in the rules of the road and safe driving skills, this drivers education should be paired with practice at home. But where to start? On today’s blog, we’ll be discussing five driving skills every teen should have and give you a step-by-step guide to practicing them. Contact us today if you have any questions or would like to know more about our philosophy!

1. Start by checking your vehicle

Before you pull out of the driveway, you should teach your teen to check the vehicle for safety and adjust it for their body. Walk around the vehicle and check for low tires or obstacles like other cars or trees. Have them adjust the mirrors, the seat, and the steering wheel.

Next, review the controls and teach your teen how to use the following:

  • Dashboard controls like heating and cooling, sound system, and flashers
  • Turn signals, wiper blades, and headlights
  • Parking brake
  • Gas and brakes (discuss ABS)
  • Warning and indicator lights on the dashboard (low fuel, oil, temp, etc.)
  • How to turn on the car and shift gears

Driving requires paying attention to a lot of things and being able to multitask. Even though your teen is eager to get out on the road, it’s important to set a strong drivers education foundation and help them understand the vehicle.

2. Pay attention to your surroundings

It sounds simple, but teaching your teen to be aware of their surroundings is one of the most important things you can do to help them become safe, defensive drivers. You know how it is to drive home listening to the radio and realize that you’re paying attention to the music (and your singing skills) than to the road. Distracted driving is dangerous driving and the number one reason for accidents. There are plenty of unexpected hazards, like a skateboard in the road or a tire tread, that drivers need to be ready for. Part of driving education is teaching your teen to frequently check their mirrors, be aware of other cars, check traffic patterns, obstacles from construction, and road signs.

3. Practice beginner skills

Find a safe, low-speed, low-traffic area. A secluded neighborhood works well for drivers education. There, practice beginner skills like pulling up to a stop sign and following the speed limit.

Practice turning, braking and accelerating smoothly, maintaining appropriate speeds, and scanning for hazards. Here in Englewood, it’s especially important to teach sharing the road with cyclists and pedestrians. 

4. Highway driving

Taking a new driver out on the highway for the first time can be scary! But know that the only way we get better at things is by practicing the skills. We remind parents every day that millions of teens have been through drivers education and have learned to be competent drivers.

New drivers should begin on smaller highways and at quieter times of the day. Save rush hour merging for after some practice! Before heading out, make sure you go over the following:

  • Keeping a larger distance between you and the care in front of you to account for higher speeds.
  • Checking blind spots before merging or changing lanes.
  • Looking for stopped traffic or slowing cars ahead.
  • Preparing for exiting the highway.

Highway driving often means driving longer distances and needing to use a navigation system. Teach your teen to keep their hands on the wheel and follow hands-free phone laws. There are plenty of devices you can buy to make using a smartphone in the car safer and prevent distracted driving, which can be especially dangerous on the highway.

5. Advanced Skills

After your driver has mastered the beginner skills (and you’ve put in the hours in slow, safe areas) you can teach some more advanced skills. If you feel your teen is ready for a challenge, try having them master these more advanced skills:

  • Merging into traffic, both on the highway and onto busy roads.
  • Navigating toll booths and restaurant drive-throughs.
  • Passing larger vehicles like trucks or being passed.
  • Maintaining consistent speed on highways.
  • Keeping a safe following distance at different speeds and in different contexts.

You should also take your teen out during difficult driving conditions. You don’t want them to navigate snow or rain for the first time alone! Certain conditions — like navigating curving roads at night or driving in rain, snow or fog — can be difficult for all drivers, but are extremely dangerous for new drivers. Discuss using things like the defroster, fog lights, and high beams. Also, talk about when and how to pull over during a storm and what to do in emergency situations. 

Freedom Drivers Ed In Englewood

No other driving school in the area can match the qualifications, training, and experience of our instructors! We offer comprehensive drivers education, from coursework to behind-the-wheel to drivers test prep and license tests. 

Our training philosophy is “Hear It – See It – Do It!” We help our students move safely from classroom training to practice on the road. Register for an online or classroom driving class today!