Driving Skills to Help your Teen Driver Learn

Are you helping your teen learn to drive? Here in the State of Washington, your 16- or 17-year-old must have a minimum of 50 supervised driving hours in order to obtain their license. Of those, 10 hours must be driven at night. 

To be sure, this can seem like a daunting task. How can you best break up the hours to help your teen get comfortable behind the wheel? And how can you avoid the monotony of driving the same neighborhood streets and routes over and over? 

To help with this task, we’ve come up with a list of essential driving skills. For each driving session, pick one or two skills to practice. This variety will keep things interesting and better focus your time. 

Focus: Hills.
Here in Western Washington, hills abound! Your teen driver is sure to encounter them. Find a steep neighborhood hill to practice braking and starting. The idea is to simulate having to stop at a light on a slope. You could also have your teen practice driving up and down hills, particularly curvy ones, to hone their skills. 

Focus: Parking. 
Parking is such an essential skill! Start in an empty parking lot. Good options include schools on weekends or churches on weekdays. You might consider bringing some cones to simulate cars and provide visual interest. 

An empty parking lot is also a good option for practicing parallel parking. 

Focus: Four-Way Stops. 
Find a route that has at least one four-way stop. Have your teen cross it at least 10 times in a session. Have your teen make right turns, left turns, and proceed straight ahead. 

Focus: Roundabouts.
Roundabouts are becoming increasingly popular on Washington’s roads. Thus, it’s important that your teen knows how to confidently navigate them. 

Start with a simple roundabout on quieter roads to build up their confidence before progressing to busier roundabouts. 

Focus: Intersections. 
You could spend several sessions working on intersections! Start with simple intersections with limited lanes and quieter traffic. Have your teen practice various turns (left, right, straight). 

You could create variations to the intersection focus, too. For instance, one day you might want to focus on righthand turns on red. Or left turns. 

Focus: Changing Lanes. 
Changing lanes is a skill that needs particular practice. And it’s certainly good to practice this skill before attempting freeway driving. 

Focus: Busy Parking Lots. 
As your teen grows in their skill, have them drive through a few busy parking lots. Get them comfortable navigating the various directions, pedestrians, and speed bumps. 

Focus: Freeways. 
Start building their freeway skills by picking a day that doesn’t have too much traffic. Have your teen merge, change lanes, and exit several times. 

Focus: Night Driving. 
Night driving is already required, so make sure to spend some sessions with your teen to gain this skill. 

Focus: Inclement Driving. 
Purposefully have your teen drive when it’s foggy or rainy out. Make sure they are familiar with how to defrost their windshield, correctly use the headlights, and windshield wipers. 

We hope this post has given you some good ideas on how to organize your driving sessions with your teen! 

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Angela Russell
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