Preparing Your Teen Driver

Posted by Kelsey Mattia, CCIU Communications on 6/22/2021

[Estimated Read Time: 2:54 Minutes]

Learning how to drive can be stressful for both teenagers and parents, but it doesn’t have to be! Spending time with your teenager to help them feel comfortable in the driver’s seat can make a world of a difference when they’re first learning how to drive.

If you’re wondering where to even begin, we’ve got you covered!

Before setting off for the first time, whether it’s on the road or in a parking lot, make sure to give your teenager a tour of the car’s interior. Explain what each control is and how to operate it. The following list of controls is a great place to start:

  • Gas pedal versus brake pedal
  • Transmission
  • Parking brake
  • How and when to adjust mirrors
  • Turning signals
  • Emergency/Hazard lights
  • Headlight controls (don’t forget the high beams!)
  • Dashboard warning lights
  • Interior lights

Once your teenage driver feels comfortable inside of the vehicle, it’s time to begin driving! Start out in an area where there are no other drivers, such as an empty parking lot. Remember, this is a brand-new skill your teenager is learning, so it will take some time for them to get into the swing of things and feel comfortable behind the wheel. Start off slow and begin by focusing on driving in a straight line and stopping smoothly. Once this is achieved, move onto something difficult, such as driving in reverse or parking.

Keep in mind, this will take time! If it’s frustrating for you it is probably frustrating for them as well, so allow them to learn at their own pace. Also remember to praise them for doing well and encourage them if they are struggling – which they probably will struggle, as learning something new can be challenging.

Once they are comfortable driving in an empty location, ease them into driving on the road. Remember to take it slow and let them go at their own pace.

Here are some things to keep in mind when your teenager is ready to drive on the road:

Do’s:

  • Start in a residential area
  • Graduate to more congested roads at their pace
  • Advance to higher speed limit roads
  • Drive on larger, multi-lane highways last (at first, stay in the far-right lane so your teenager can get used to the highway)
  • Go over what to do in an emergency or during bad weather

Don’t:

  • Rush your teenager into scenarios they aren’t ready for
  • Distract them (they have enough to pay attention to!)
  • Backseat drive (you may have more experience, but they are in the driver’s seat)

Want to know more about best ways to prepare your teenage driver? The following is a list of resources you can use to learn even more about teaching your teenager to drive:

  • Young Driver (PennDOT)
    • This article from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) includes a brief explanation of PA’s graduated driver licensing law, such as requirements and rules for learner’s permits, junior licensees and unrestricted licenses. It also includes a short quiz that young drivers can take to test their road knowledge.
  • Do You Know How to Parallel Park? (PennDOT)
    • Another great resource from PennDOT that focuses on perhaps the scariest part of the driver’s license road test: parallel parking. It provides a step-by-step explanation and even includes an infographic detailing how to parallel park safely.
  • Teen Drivers (PennDOT)
    • A directory sharing multiple resources available throughout PennDOT’s website.

Do you have other ideas or strategies for teaching your teenage driver? We would love to hear them - share a comment below!

Additionally, if you are interested in learning more about any of our driver education services or driver’s license testing centers, visit our Driver Education & Testing website.