Learning to drive with your parents

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With the massive backlog caused by the 2020/21 lockdowns and a big national shortage of driving instructors, more and more people are now learning to drive with their parents, but is it a good idea and how can you be sure mum and dad are showing you the correct way to drive and be ready for your driving test.

Read on for our guide to learning to drive with your parents – There are also some useful tips for mum and dad as well.

So lets begin

Learning to drive with a parent or a loved one can cause some real stresses in any relationship. I have in the past had young pupils tell me they have had a lesson with their Dad and when I asked how it went, it normally ends in them being shouted at, which obviously doesn’t help much with the nerves. Unfortunately having someone that knows you too well might not always be the best situation when learning to drive and can lead to a few arguments.

For those of you that are still feeling brave and willing to take the risk, I have listed below a few pointers for both you the learner and for whoever is sitting next to you and advising you on your lessons. 

Driver Responsibility

Remember for someone to sit next to you when you are learning to drive, they must be a full licence holder aged 21+ and held their full driving licence for a minimum of 3 years. And remember that although you are driving they are ultimately in charge of the car and doing their best to keep you safe, so they must be paying you their full attention the whole time and not being texting or talking on their mobile phone as if caught they will be prosecuted as if they were driving themselves.

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Mirror Checks

One of the most common faults we find when someone has been learning to drive with a parent or loved one in the lack of mirror checks. You basically need to check your mirrors before you do anything.

Turning Left and Right

You should always check your mirror before you signal to turn left or right. You should always check the centre mirror followed by left or right dependent on which direction you are going and you need to check these mirrors in good time so you can respond to what you are seeing, so around 10 car lengths before the junction. 

Moving around other vehicles

You should again check your centre right mirror to move around a parked car and also check your centre left mirror before moving back in past the parked car, this also applys to anything you are passing, so cyclists for an example.

Changing Speed

You should always check your centre mirror before changing speed, so anything that makes you slow down or brake and also before you increase your speed. 

  • The Reason – The reason we check the centre mirror before changing speed (Slowing Down) is to see what might be following us behind, we then need to judge how we slow down, do we need to be more gradual to give the car time to back off or is it safe to brake and bring the speed down more quickly.
  • You need to check the centre mirror before increasing your speed to make sure it is safe and no one is about to overtake you before you increase your speed.

Blind Spots

Another important observation that is often missed by drivers of all levels of experience is the Blind Spot Check. The blind spot is an area to the side and rear of the vehicle on both the right and left side that your mirrors can not see, it’s important to check this area because there may be hidden dangers lurking out of sight.

You need to check the blind spot whenever you move off from the side of the road or from a parking space, even if you are pulling off from your own driveway or have a wall behind you please check anyway as this needs to become a habit so that you do it every time you move off from a parked position. 

The blind spot should only be checked while stationary, its not safe to check this area when the car is moving forward as you will be taking your eyes off the road ahead. 

Approach Speeds

So how fast is too fast when it comes to approaching junctions or turning corners. We quite often find that learners after taking lessons with parents approach junction far too fast because this is nornmally how the parent drives themselves. 

As a driving instructor, we would encourage you to approach a left or right turn at no more than 10-12 mph, this low speed will give you time to check your mirrors, give an early enough signal to any following vehicles and allow you enough time to change down to a suitable gear to give you good control around the corner. It’s also important to make sure your clutch is fully back up before you start to turn the corner.

This slow speed while turning the corner will also make it easier for you to stop if something unexpected was around the corner like a parked car or someone crossing the road.

Professional Guidance

Taking driving lessons from a loved one can be great and will save you a lot of money on learning to drive but it important to also seek training from a professional driving instructor as they will be able to make sure you are safe and straight away they will be able to spot any weaknesses you have in your driving that to the untrained eye could easily be missed. Professional driving instructors also have good knowledge of the driving exam and know what the driving examiners will be looking for, so the instructor will be able to help you with any trickier areas that the test centre might cover on the test.

Below we have some essentials you might need when learning to drive with your parents

Tips for mum and dad

Teaching your son or daughter how to drive might feel you with dread and the experience can feel very stressful and lead to arguments and unfortunately if your not careful, a falling out.

But it is very important for your son or daughter to get that extra experience behind the wheel as well as having professional driving lessons.

If your child has got a driving instructor that they are having regular driving lessons with, don’t be surprised if they have been taught to do things differently from how you were taught and unless it’s dangerous, please don’t try to fix how they are doing things. Over the years the driving syllabus has changed and things like changing down through gears one at a time as you slow down is no longer taught, you are now encouraged to block gear change by skipping over a gear to the one you need.

You are even now allowed to cross your hands while steering but you must remain in full control of the car while doing so and this isn’t something we would encourage or teach a pupil to do. You are not allowed to palm the wheel though. You also do not need to signal around everything that is parked by the side of the road, be selective on your signals and make sure it is necessary.

Try and remember how nervous you were when you started your own driving lessons, to start with, choose a quiet location away from the main roads to build up your child’s confidence. Be sure to give them plenty of advanced warning about where you would like them to turn, remember it will take them a lot longer to process what they need to do than it would with an experienced driver.

Try and remember to keep your cool if they make a mistake, to do otherwise will only make the situation worse and could put them off driving with you in the future.

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