The Definitive Guide To Teaching Your Teenager To Drive

Advice from a fighter pilot and a psychologist. You're gonna need both.

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The moment your kid has anticipated as long as you’ve dreaded it has finally arrived: it’s driver’s license time. Assuming you’ve already figured out that the passenger side brake doesn’t exist, you might be feeling a bit anxious about how to best direct your kid — beyond, “don’t leave the driveway.” If so, take a deep breath and read up on instruction skills from a fighter pilot trainer, coping skills from a psychologist and author, and sample driving test questions that’ll determine if you should still be allowed on the road. It’s a toolkit with everything you need to calm you down and get your teenage driver proceeding with caution. Except that brake. Smash the floorboard all you want, it still won’t be there.

  • Meticulously planning, reviewing, and visualizing the route (and repeating that process multiple times) works equally in an F-18 and your old station wagon. Pilotspeak is optional but encouraged. “Okay, now put it in reverse — WATCH YOUR 6!”
  • Always end on a positive, even if it’s simply stopping and putting it in park. Be confident; fake it if necessary. This isn’t like when Moose was learning in ‘Nam. There are rules.
  • They have to fail to learn, so that first hydroplane is inevitable. Try to use failures as teaching moments and move on quickly. Carefully, but quickly.
  • Driving is serious business, and you should let them know it. In that vein, it’s okay to be scared. Hell, if Moose was, who wouldn’t be?
  • Decide what you’re willing to let go. They’re 17 — if they haven’t heard your pleas for them to shower regularly by now, they never will. Let it go and stick to bugging them over the important stuff. You know, like safely operating a 1-ton machine at high speeds.
  • You now have a built-in chauffeur. Play your cards right and those drives will be bonding experiences and productive critiques of their skills.
  • Show a united front. The rules don’t matter as much as both parents agreeing on them.

A Mock Written Test To See If You Still Know What The Hell You’re Talking About Experience and confidence go a long way towards getting your license, but one scenario where, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right” doesn’t quite cut it is the dreaded written test. You might be surprised to find out that the odds of earning a passing 80 percent grade are about the same for your been-driving-for-2-decades self as your been-driving-for-2-days kid. These 10 questions represent some of the most difficult to figure from written driving tests around the country. You’d have a prayer of getting your license today if you know things like:

  • What to do when you drive into a dust storm.
  • The precise speed at which partial hydroplaning begins.
  • Who has the right of way when you meet another vehicle head-on on a steep mountain pass.

Good luck.

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