Tips for Teaching a Learner How To Drive

L sign on the back of a car

By the time you are teaching your son, daughter, or family friend how to drive, you’ve probably had your license for many years. While you probably have extensive driving experience, it is not unusual to feel a bit overwhelmed or inadequately equipped with the idea of teaching someone else to drive. However, it is possible to pass on valuable tips from your driving experience and maintain a positive relationship with the learner. The good news is that teaching someone to drive doesn’t need to involve near misses and screaming matches. In fact, it might even turn into an enjoyable time together where you can pass on valuable knowledge for safe and happy driving well into the future.

Here are some key tips to help keep driving sessions calm and effective.

Stay calm

As the teacher, it is key that you remain calm and relaxed throughout the entire lesson. If you are feeling tired or stressed, postpone the drive. Both you and the learner will have a more productive session and will perform better in a calm environment. If it comes to it, stop a driving session early and take over. Shouting or raising your voice at the learner will not assist in teaching them how to drive.


Plan for your driving sessions and build positive habits. This could include planning out sessions from simpler driving skills to more demanding situations. Spend the beginner lessons on quiet streets before progressing to busier roads, night driving, and higher speeds. Talk to the learner and find out what routes they might like to travel. The ‘sink or swim’ concept does not work with learner drivers. Focus on building their confidence before taking them out onto busy roads.

Clear instructions

A learner has little experience with driving so you need to give clear instructions they can understand and follow. Giving early directions allows the learner plenty of time to think ahead and ask any questions they may have. Try using the ‘At, When, Do’ method: ‘At the next street, when there’s a safe gap, turn left.’

Additionally, you will need to give the driver your full attention. This means getting rid of distractions like turning your mobile phone off, as well as the radio or any music device.

Five-step teaching model

Step 1: Explain

  • Take your time explaining what you are about to teach them and its importance.
  • Outline the clear logical process.
  • Ask for questions to check they fully understand, you might ask them to re-explain it to you in their own words.
  • Only give further feedback or explanations when the car is parked to ensure you have the learner’s full attention.

Step 2: Demonstrate (you must drive)

  • For teaching fundamental skills, take your time showing the learner exactly what you want them to do.
  • Remember to take your time and consider changing the way you explain the process if they don’t understand the instructions the first time.
  • Ensure you are explaining the procedure correctly.

Step 3: Practice, practice, practice

  • Before giving them an opportunity to perform the process themselves check that they know exactly what to do.
  • When they are learning a new process ensure they are practicing in a simple and calm environment (a quiet parking lot or suburb).
  • Remember they are learning these processes and therefore stay patient as they will need several practices before they start getting it right.

Step 4: Feedback

  • Remember to acknowledge and give praise for the tasks they did well.
  • Try to give feedback immediately, this might include asking the learner to park first and then discuss what has just occurred. By parking first, you will ensure you aren’t interrupting their focus.
  • Ensure the feedback you are giving is relevant and specific. If you try to give all your feedback all at once you will likely confuse and overwhelm them.
  • Avoid generalised statements like: “Drive safely”, “Drive smoothly”, or “Don’t speed”. Try being more specific like: “We should have slowed down for that last turn because we had limited vision”.

Step 5: Recap

  • At the end of the lesson, you will want to review the main points of the route.
  • Ask the learner what they thought they did well and what they need to improve on.
  • Avoid adding in any new information as it will be forgotten by the time your next driving session comes around.

Watch your own driving habits

It is shown that the way you drive and your own habits behind the wheel influence the way your learner behaves on the road. Stay aware of your own driving habits and attitudes before you begin instructing a learner driver. It will help ensure that when they get their license you can have full confidence they are safe on the road.

Once both you and the learner feel confident about being behind the wheel and they have completed all of the learner requirements they can take their Ps test. During this time they are probably going to want to start searching for a car of their own. Perhaps now might be a good chance to hand down an old family car and search for a new one for yourself.

If you are looking for a first car for a family member, have a chat with one of our friendly car brokers today. Some makes and models are better suited as first cars than others.
Or if you are going to hand down the current family car, our brokers can also advise of any pros and cons of new cars you may be considering for yourself.

Posted on September 12, 2018 in Driving Tips