supervising drivers guide

How to Teach Someone to Drive: A Supervising Driver’s Guide

by Zutobi · Updated Nov 29, 2022

Teaching someone to drive is a huge responsibility. It’s important that you come prepared so you know how to prepare and what to go through. In this guide, we’ll go through all you need to know, no matter if you’ve done it before or not.

Are You Ready to be a Supervising Driver?

You’ll want to ask yourself if you are ready to be a supervising driver. How do you react to stress? Do you have patience? To teach effectively, you will need to be patient, calm, and compassionate at all times. If you have high anxiety, get frustrated with others easily, or are prone to road rage, you may want to consider hiring a professional driving instructor instead. 

You will want to make sure that you are well accustomed to the handbook and updated on things like how to drive defensively. It’s a good idea to gather lesson materials and review driving material in advance, this includes the most current driver’s manual for your state, any independent learning apps, and a lesson plan. You can quickly learn all you need to with Zutobi, we have a summarized driver’s manual that’s perfect for refreshing your knowledge.

Car at intersection with pedestrians hidden from view
You need to be updated on the latest defensive driving techniques and laws to be an effective supervising driver.

Check the following before the first driving lesson:

  • Make sure your insurance will cover a student driver in case of an accident. If not, you can check about a permanent or temporary upgrade. Make sure you know what they will and will not cover before starting any road practice.
  • Have your vehicle inspected. Make sure it is road-worthy before putting a student driver behind it. Tires should be in good shape and properly inflated. All fluids should be topped off. No Check engine lights, mysterious leaks, or strange sounds.

Also, before you promise to teach someone how to drive, make sure you are qualified to do so. Most states require you to have a full valid license and be at least 21 years old.

What to Teach a New Driver Before They Get Behind the Wheel

  1. Discuss Distracted Driving. Eight people are killed in an accident involving distracted driving every day. Make sure you and your student both know the risks and best driving practices, especially when it involves responding to a cell phone. Make sure to go over:
    1. The three types of distracted driving: Taking your eyes off the road, Taking your hands off the wheel, and taking your mind off driving. Discuss the best ways to prevent each of them in various situations.
    2. Any restrictions put on them by the law. Especially regarding phones, tablets, and hands-free devices. They may also have restrictions on the number of people they can have in the vehicle with them.
    3. Safe ways to get off the road when they need to deal with a distraction.
  2. Discuss Drowsy and Emotional Driving. Also, make sure to cover when to pull over and ways to attain alternative transport.
  3. Discuss Drugs and Alcohol. Over 10,000 Americans die from alcohol-related road accidents each year. Go through both the laws and how alcohol impacts their driving. Also cover the effects of their prescriptions, cold medicine, and allergy medicines that have drowsiness or vertigo listed as a side effect. Be sure to discuss:
    • How to time any alcohol, drugs, or medicines to keep them from interacting with their driving
    • How to identify when they are under the influence and when to get off the road
    • How to attain alternate transport
    • How to secure their vehicle if they will need to leave it unattended

Also, have the new driver ride with you before the first driving lesson. Point out road signs and their functions. Explain who has to yield at certain stops. Discuss areas on the route that are prone to floods, black ice, and other hazards, along with how to handle them. Explain to them why you pass when you do, or why you react the way you do in certain situations.

Car driving on a road approaching a curve
Before the first lesson, have the new driver ride with you so you can explain what different signs mean and why you drive the way you do.

Checklist for Teaching Someone to Drive

Here are some tips to help you get off on the right foot the first time you teach driving.

  1. Get them accustomed to the vehicle they will be driving. Show them where everything is. Have them sit in the driver’s seat and point out where important functions and levers are, like the emergency brakes, lights, blinkers, and speedometer. Let them practice adjusting the seat and mirrors, turning on defrosters, the windshield wipers, and other essential functions.
  2. Keep the sessions short and frequent. Three to four thirty-minute sessions every week will help reinforce learning better than one two-hour session on the weekend. Short and focused sessions will also keep the new driver from being overwhelmed with new information.
  3. Remove all distractions, and try to keep any discussions focused on driving lessons. Make sure to turn off the radio, put away your phone, remove junk from the car, roll up the windows, and limit any other distractions while on the road.
  4. Start with simple and familiar zones, and get progressively more challenging. For example, we recommend that you start teaching in an open parking lot to practice turns, signals, and low-speed acceleration and braking. Then move on to familiar streets with little traffic, and lastly places with heavier traffic when they are ready.
  5. Know when to stop the lesson. Watch their tone and body language. If they start gripping the steering wheel, holding their breath, snapping, or showing other signs of distress, have them pull over for a quick breather. If need be, break for the day and start fresh at the next session.
  6. Have a plan. When teaching someone to drive, there’s a lot you will need to go through. Create a plan or a schedule so you remember everything! Here are a few things you’ll need to go through:
    • What is a suitable speed for the conditions?
    • Understand the basics of owning a car. For example, how to change a tire, pump gas, and add fluids to the car.
    • Dashboard lights and what they mean.
    • When is changing lanes safe?
    • How to reverse and when it’s suitable.
    • How to park.
    • Defensive driving.
Motorcycle hidden behind car at an intersection
You’ll need to teach about defensive driving and how to anticipate and avoid hazards.

As you most likely understand by now, teaching someone how to drive is a huge task and it will require you to know how to do a lot of things. It’s your responsibility to make sure that you are able to properly teach all of the things we’ve gone through in this article. Your student/kid is counting on it. To get up to date, we provide summarized driver manuals and practice tests for each state where you will find everything you need to know to become a great supervising driver. Practical driving tips, defensive driving, dashboard lights, and more – all in one place! 

We also provide progress trackers, and other interactive learning aids to help your child pinpoint their strengths and problem areas to become a safe driver.

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