When you have a son or daughter who’s learning to drive, it’s important that they get as much hands-on practise as possible. Practise is really important should a learner driver want to pass their test quickly and with few faults, but when a provisional licence holder needs a certified passenger, your role is to accompany them on their ventures outside.
This can be a proud moment, but also a scary one at times. So, when you’re accompanying a learner driver, how can you be the best passenger?
1. Be patient
Patience really is a virtue, but being virtuous can be difficult when you’re dealing with a learner driver. No matter what, it’s important that you stay patient with your child when you’re practising driving together.
It’s important to listen to what they’re telling you, particularly if they’re uncomfortable driving in a certain location or at a certain time (like rush hour). Should they do something wrong or get themselves into a tricky situation, try to let them work out what to do next on their own.
2. Try not to raise your voice
When you’re a practised, confident driver, it might come naturally to raise your voice when your child does something wrong on the roads, or makes a decision you might not have made.
However, you should try to stay as calm as possible and not shout or yell when they’re in the driver’s seat. Yelling could make them more stressed and anxious in an already difficult situation, so try to explain things to them in a calm manner.
3. Only push them as far as their capabilities
It can take a while for a learner driver to build their confidence, and driving can initially be a scary experience. For this reason, you don’t want to push them too hard in the first instance.
The first time you take them out, it might be a good idea to drive around your local area on roads with a speed limit of up to 40mph. Slower roads will keep them calmer and give them more time to make decisions: an essential when you’re learning to drive.
As the weeks progress, you should take them on roads that their driving abilities are suited for and potentially avoid very difficult or dangerous situations, such as severe hill starts or large busy roads. These things can be tackled later on.
Listening to your child while they’re in the driving seat is so important. They might ask questions as you go, so be ready to answer anything they ask. You should also listen when they tell you what they’re happy with, what they’re not so confident with and what they need extra help with. You could maybe spend more time practising the things they’re struggling to do and less time on the aspects they’re confident in.
You should give them your full, undivided attention too. Try not to spend any time on your phone, as they need you to watch what’s happening around them while they practise.
5. Follow their instructor’s guidance
It might be tricky for a learner driver who’s taking advice from lots of people – their instructor tells them one thing and a parent tells them something different.
When you’re in the car with your child as the driver, you should try to align your ideas with their instructor’s. Avoid teaching them shortcuts or sloppy driving skills and consistently encourage them to check their mirrors, use their indicators, apply the handbrake when they come to a stop, etc.
If you’re unsure yourself what ‘good’ and ‘bad’ driving habits are, you could refresh the Highway Code, ensuring you’re up to date on the rules of the road. You can also ask their instructor what a driver should do in certain situations or what the best practices are.
Hopefully, with our tips and tricks, you’ll understand how to be the perfect passenger for your son or daughter while accompanying them in the car. Learning to drive can be a scary process, but with you in the car with them, your child will almost certainly be put at ease.