So it’s time for your teen to hit the road? For many parents and teens this can be a stressful, scary endeavor, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few quick tips to help make getting started a bit easier.
Remember, You’ve Been Driving for 30 Years
As experienced drivers we tend to take driving for granted and forget that it is a complex, multi-dimensional skill that our new drivers are trying to develop. Keeping that thought in mind as you work with your teen will help you both manage expectations and stay calm while practicing.
Form = Function
Most drivers don’t realize the importance of proper form and the impact that it can have on driving performance. Ensuring your teen is positioned properly makes the physical act of driving easier and reduces cognitive load on the driver which is crucial for skill development and ultimately safety.
Seating Position – Most people sit too far back and end up having to “reach” for the steering wheel during larger turning movements. To check for proper position have the driver hold the wheel (left hand at 9 o’clock and right hand at 3 o’clock) and turn it through 180 degrees of rotation in both directions. While moving through this range the driver’s back and shoulders should stay flush against the seat. If their back or shoulders come off the seat at any point they are too far from the wheel. Either move the seat forward, reduce the recline of the seat back, or both.
Hands – It’s 9 and 3, not 10 and 2! Despite what you might have been taught back in the day, 9 and 3 gives us more control over a greater range of motion before we need to go hand over hand. One of the biggest challenges for new drivers (and many experienced drivers too) is moving their hands around the wheel too much, which increases cognitive load (i.e. they have to think too much) that can lead to safety issues. With that in mind try to focus on keeping the hands calm and at least one hand anchored at 9 or 3 throughout the range of steering while driving.
Feet and Legs – Make sure they only drive with one foot and pivot between the gas and brake. It’s important that they move between the gas and the brake without lifting their foot off the floor. When they lift the foot it introduces the large muscles in the thigh, and big muscles = big movements, which is the opposite of the small, precise pedal action we’re looking for by utilizing the ankle and foot.
Eyes – If there is one thing to remember, it is this: because our hands and eyes work together, the car will go where the eyes go. There’s a huge difference between “looking where you are going” and “looking where you want to go”. Many accidents happen because we look at what we don’t want to hit, and the hands take us there. Drivers should be looking where they want to go and the hands will work to get them there.
Want a Head Start?
Greenlight Simulation will get your new driver started by teaching them these basics and more with their state-of-the-art simulator-based technology. Our training packages were designed by driving experts who have trained professional race car and special ops drivers around the world. No matter what route you take, this is an exciting milestone that will give you both more freedom and we wish you luck!