First, make sure to explain to your teen that keeping their arms relaxed and their hands at the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock positions (not 2 and 10) will provide maximum rotation and increased control over the steering wheel. If they ask why, explain that relaxed muscles respond more quickly than tense muscles. You may also want to explain that many factors can decrease control, especially distracted driving – and that they may need to put the smartphone out of reach.
No Scolding Please
Teenagers simply don’t respond well to scolding. Therefore, when you’re giving a lesson, make sure to keep the mood light. Ignore the slip-ups and praise proper driving technique (i.e. “Good lane position. It’s great that you always use your turn signal without being reminded.”) Positive reinforcement is a proven way to build good habits.
Vacant Lot Lessons
Nothing teaches a new driver how to deal with a crisis like having them push the car to extremes in a deserted parking lot. You might practice turning abruptly while keeping up a steady speed – sharp cornering and skidding in this controlled environment beats doing it for the first time in an emergency. During the resulting oversteer (when the car fishtails) teach your teen to tap the brakes and slowly turn the wheel away from the direction of the skid in order to regain control.
To help them learn how the ABS system works, have them brake hard at 30 mph so they learn what that pulsating feeling is and how to keep applying pressure in spite of it. Lastly, give these vacant lot lessons in all weather conditions to help them understand how the car behaves on wet, snowy, or icy pavement.
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