Advice for parents giving driving lessons over the holidays
With the whole family home for the festive period, Christmas is the perfect time to take teenagers, who are learning to drive, out for some all-important practice. Marmalade, the leading provider of cars and insurance for young drivers, has put together tips for parents to make the sessions as beneficial as possible.
DVSA recommendations are for learner drivers to go out for roughly 22 hours’ of private lessons alongside those with a professional driving instructor. Practice is proven to increase familiarity and expose learners to more real-life driving situations, but with parents in full-time work and learners in full-time education or work, it can be challenging to find time.
This means the Christmas holidays are an ideal opportunity to get some additional practice. Let your child drive to the supermarket for the big food shop, to deliver gifts to friends and family and practice driving in different weather conditions as the roads become icier. If the learner will be the designated driver on Christmas Day, remember that there needs to be a supervising adult in the car who is not over the drink driving limit, which includes the morning after.
Crispin Moger, CEO at Marmalade, said: “The more driving experience a learner can get, the better. It gets them used to being on the road at different times of day, with different people in the car and in situations they might not have come across in their lessons – with a parent there to guide them. At Marmalade we do everything we can to keep our young drivers safe, and the use of black boxes means that only one in 15 of our New Driver Insurance customers has an accident within six months of passing their test, compared to a national average of one in five.”
For parents who learned to drive many years ago and aren’t used to teaching, it can be a nerve-wracking experience. Mark Richards – parent blogger at Best Dad I Can Be and dad to Marmalade ambassador Eleanor – said: “I think it’s important to show them how proud you are of them, and that you have confidence in them – even if it can sometimes be hard to stay calm the whole time.”
Marmalade recommends that parents familiarise themselves with the Highway Code to refresh their knowledge on key legal and safety requirements, especially the section on driving in adverse weather conditions. Advanced driving lessons aren’t a legal requirement, but could help parents become better teachers – and improve their own driving techniques.
Crispin Moger continues: “As the parent of a soon-to-be driver myself, I know how important it is to set a good example when I’m in the driver’s seat. Always do your seatbelt up, don’t show road rage and don’t drive too closely to other vehicles. These things can have a huge impact. The focus should be on making the process of learning to drive as stress-free, exciting and positive as possible for your child.”
Driving Instructor TV’s Louise Walsh recommends that parents communicate with their child’s driving instructor and if possible, go out for a lesson with them. This way parents know the teaching methods used and will see what learners are capable of.
Louise said: “When you’re having private practice, let the learner driver lead so as not to push them into situations they’re not ready for. Be patient and remember that they’re learning not only how to use the car but also how to make decisions such as how quickly it’s appropriate to drive, when to pull out of a junction or when to overtake. Don’t tell them what to do more than necessary – it’s your job to let them take control and make choices for themselves.
“Encourage the learner driver to tell you what they’re doing and why they’re doing it, as driving instructors will be doing the same. This will help your stress levels too, and reassure you that they’re noticing potential hazards. Lastly, I always tell parents to keep some sort of diary or log so that it can be shared with the driving instructor, taking a particular note of any questions or uncertainty.”
For more information about Marmalade visit www.wearemarmalade.co.uk