Coaching the Teen Driver

Driver education is a team effort involving schools, communities, students and families. The Virginia General Assembly requires parents or guardians to certify that their children have driven motor vehicles for at least 45 hours, 15 of which must be after sunset, before they are eligible for a provisional license. Because parents and guardians play such a significant role in the development of safe driving habits, parents should remain involved in the learning process as observers in the car during the guided practice sessions. At the end of the technical assistance guide is a 45-hour log to help you keep track of your driving time together. CLICK HERE for the 45-Hour Parent/Teen Driving Guide. The guide provides a systematic approach to teaching your child to drive in both low- and high-risk driving environments. The lessons follow a sequential learning pattern that progresses from the parking lot to neighborhoods, to light traffic, to rural highways, to expressways, and then to city driving. Each lesson provides the parent with an estimated amount of time the student will need to achieve mastery. Because students have different abilities and learning styles, you need to spend as much time as necessary to allow your child to master the skills before moving on to the next lesson. If neither parent has a valid driver's license, a friend or relative can conduct the guided practice sessions. Understand and be able to discuss the licensing process with your teen. Model an understanding of the Virginia traffic laws. Set a good example of a competent and responsible driver. Parenting Tips for In-Car Guided Practice Sessions Enjoy your time together. Have fun! This can be a great "bonding"opportunity. Focus on the driving tasks and leave family issues at home. When you drive, set a good example. Always wear your safety belt. Try to correct any unsafe driving habits that you may have acquired. If possible, instruction should begin in a car with an automatic transmission so that your child can focus on mastering basic vehicle control maneuvers. Select driving environments that complement the lesson objectives and novice driver ability. Start in parking lots and progress to quiet neighborhoods. Stay in safe, low-risk driving environments as long as needed and, in the beginning, practice driving routes familiar to your child. Check to make sure your teenager has a learner's permit, vehicle registration card, and insurance information with him or her when operating a vehicle. Consider and discuss with your teen the possibility of installing electronic monitoring in your car. There are a number of driving monitoring systems that can be installed at low cost.