If you’re a parent of a teenager with a freshly minted driver’s permit in Ambler, PA, you know what’s coming next. That permit means your kid, yeah the one who learned to use a spoon approximately 10 minutes ago, is ready to hit the road on their first driving lesson. Ready or not, the time has come to teach your teen to drive.
Teaching your own teen how to drive can be extremely stressful for parents. It’s understandable; you could physically provide safety when you taught them to walk, ride a bike, or rollerblade. You can’t protect them with your own hands when driving. Not only that, but you have to remember what it was like to know nothing and start from there with your teen. Your new teen driver has zero experience, mistakes are bound to happen, and your first lessons will have a profound impact on your teen’s attitude towards driving.
On top of all of your fears about your ability to teach, it can be scary sitting in the passenger seat with them behind the wheel! As a driving instructor for over 10 years, I’ve seen this firsthand. Parents come to me with horror stories about trying to teach their teen how to drive. Let’s just say that if you and your teen have some unresolved tension or conflict, work on reconciling that before your first driving lesson.
When you’re just getting started, the most important thing to remember is not to allow your teen’s first driving experience to be on a road. Their first time driving should be in a large, empty, open parking lot. This is imperative. For the Ambler area, think high school or local college parking lots, out-of-business retail lots, or an industrial complex.
Use the parking lot to help your teen get really comfortable behind the wheel. Keep in mind that this is preparation for the road, so all safe driving skills apply in the parking lot, no matter how alone you are. Wear seatbelts, check mirrors, signal turns and lane changes, etc. After you feel that parking lot practice has gotten your young driver to a skill level that can navigate a road, plan the next steps of where you’ll take them to drive. Start with quiet neighborhoods, then move up to low-traffic local roads, and so forth.
Whether you live right in Ambler or in a nearby town, when your teen is ready to drive on main, local roads, a good place to develop additional driving skills is the town center of Ambler - Butler Avenue.
As a driving coach based in Ambler, I know all about navigating this main street of town. It’s a good place for your teen to sharpen their skills. It’s a one-lane road, but at almost any time of day or year, there’s a good chance you’ll encounter:
Of course, you’ll see the most variety in the summer months - Ambler can be a happening town!
Awareness is one of the #1 skills that new drivers need to learn. Driving through a place where there are multiple things to pay attention to will help your new teen driver develop this attentiveness. Before having them get on Butler Avenue, give your teen a verbal quiz to get them thinking about safe driving skills. Talk about potential scenarios and discuss the safest ways to handle them.
Despite wanting to ramp up their experience level, common sense must prevail. You don’t want the first time you take your teen on Butler Avenue to be on a Saturday afternoon during restaurant week! Start with times you know there will be less activity, and work your way up to practicing at busier times.
After each lesson, remember to review the experience with your teen driver. This will help them remember the driving lessons they learn. If you have any mistakes to go over, wait until this time to cover them, and do it calmly. Make it more of a dialogue so that your teen doesn’t get defensive. Remember, if learning to drive is a good experience for both you and your teen, you’ll both be better and safer drivers for it.
If you want more tips for teaching your teen how to drive, check out some of my other blog posts. And if you come to realize that it’s just too much trying to teach them yourself, I’d be honored to work with them! Learn more about our driving lessons for teens here.