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~ Free Drivers Education Information for Parents ~
Driving Lesson Descriptions Pointers and Tips for Parent Coaching Basic Skills Lesson City Skills Lesson Freeway Skills Lesson

Driving Lesson Descriptions

The First Lesson: Basic Driving Lesson

The main focus of this lesson is developing safe habits for being behind the wheel of a car. Make sure to cover the following: basic vehicle operations, signaling for changing lanes or turning, braking (depending on your brake type), how to drive through residential intersections, right-of-way procedures, parking on a curb, how to change lanes safely, slowing down and stopping, how traffic patterns work (i. e. one-way streets), parallel parking, and how to make right or left turns. The basics are important to practice before the student moves on to more advanced traffic situations in the City Driving Lesson. Your student should practice with you for at least 4 hours before taking the City Driving Lesson. Parents should understand that the required 4 hours of Basic Driving Lesson practice takes the average student 3 to 4 weeks to complete. The more you allow your student to practice the basics, the better prepared they are for success in the next BTW lesson in advanced traffic situations.

The Second Lesson: City Driving Lesson

The main focus of this lesson is to apply the skills learned in the Basic Driving Lesson to a city traffic environment. Make sure to cover: driving down a one-way street, driving with multiple traffic light intersections, turning in turn-only lanes & double turn lanes, review parallel parking, adjusting speed depending on traffic situations, and being aware of your surroundings at all times--like looking for pedestrians! Between the basic lesson and the City lesson, students will be driving in low to medium traffic/speeds. Make sure that your student can execute all of the maneuvers listed above between the basic lesson and the city lesson before moving on to the last lesson--the freeway (high speed and high volume traffic). We ask for a bare minimum of 4 hours of practice between the city lesson and the freeway lesson--this is for the safety of students and drivers! If you feel your student has not successfully learned and can apply all of the above listed techniques while practicing driving, have them keep driving until they have mastered all of the basics.

Third Lesson: Freeway Driving Lesson

The main focus of this lesson is applying all of the student's previous driving experience to a high speed and heavy traffic situation. Make sure to cover: entering and exiting traffic, executing multiple lane changes, mirror monitoring, and freeway ramp techniques.

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Pointers and Tips for Parent Coaching

Make sure your student knows that they can come to you if they are in an unsafe situation. Even though there may be repercussions, make the option open to them to call if they are not able to get home safely, regardless of the situation.

Check the car for maintenance issues every time before driving. Look for taillights to be out, gashes in tires, etc.

If possible, keep your hands at the "9" o'clock and "3" o'clock position on the steering wheel. This position can be used with or without airbags.

When driving with your student, have the mentality that you are driving the car. You should be looking for your student on lane changes and at intersections.

Plan out your driving routes. Know where you are going to make sure your teen can handle all of those specific traffic situations.

Graduate from parking lot to reasonably light traffic with some traffic lights. Do lots of left turns at intersections, then graduate to heavier city traffic, then on to higher speeds and freeways. "Always assume that if a car could be coming, it is-and usually at or above the speed limit." Talk your student through driving. Let them know what signs you see and what you're looking for when driving.

Narrate and point (with your left hand) to where a student should be looking to help develop fast and thorough search patterns.

Three fast looks are better than one long one. Make sure you're looking right and left at every intersection.

Have the student use their side mirror to see where they are positioned in their lane. A lot of beginner drivers have a tendency to drift to the right or left. If they are looking in their side mirror to see the traffic lines and you're verbally telling them when they are drifting, they will get used to their lane position more quickly.

Always drive with headlights on and mark your car with a sign or bumper sticker that indicates that student may need to stop suddenly. Studies show that driving with your headlights on helps prevent accidents and allows other drivers to see you earlier.

Try and keep your cool. Teaching your student to drive can be a very stressful situation. If something goes wrong and your student makes a mistake, you have to calm down your student and make sure that they are okay and safe to continue to drive.

Driving the posted speed limit is too fast when conditions are not perfect.

On turns, when the student is allowing the wheel to slide and correct itself, watch their right hand. When turning, students have a tendency to drop their right hand. Make sure they are feeling friction in between their hands and the steering wheel while accelerating out of the turn and allowing the steering wheel to slide.

Try and start up conversations with your student while they are driving. They need to get into the habit of multi-tasking.

When you are driving the car and your student is a passenger, make sure they are looking right and left at every intersection and looking at every sign that you pass. This will get them into this habit and will transfer when they are driving.

Risk management: We now teach student to become good risk managers by identifying a problem, developing a solution, and executing a maneuver. For example, if you are driving down a one lane road, and there are cars parked to your right, you should drive slightly to the left in your lane just in case someone should open up their car down. This is still based in sound defensive driving techniques but is a newer approach and is more pro-active than the previous defensive posture.

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Just in case you cannot schedule your first lesson immediately, this is our lesson "How To" to assist you in teaching your student how to drive.

Basic Skills Lesson

_____ Demonstrate and explain dashboard displays, starting engine, mirror, and seat position- Adjust seats so there is a "slight" bend in the knees when the brake pedal is pushed to the floor with the foot. Adjust mirrors, rear-view mirror- center it. On the driver's side, make sure the edge of the car is seen in inner edge of mirror, with head tilted. Get out of the vehicle and show the student where the blind spots are located.
_____ Show shift positions and example of hand positions on steering wheel while turning (i.e. hand-overhand or push-pull-slide)- Circle student's choice (hand-aver-hand or push-pull-slide). Demonstrate the other method that student does not choose. Make sure the student allows the wheel to slide on the way out of the turn with hands at "9" and "3."
_____ Locate electric turn signals, review hand signals, and make sure head lights are on- Make sure you know where the turn signals and head lights are before you begin driving. Use hands signals if turning lights or brake lights are out
  • Right turns- left arm at a 90 degree angle in the upright position
  • Left turns- left arm extended straight out the window
  • Braking- left arm at a 90 degree angle in the downright position
_____ Braking procedure: Threshold/ Anti-Iock- ASS/ Antilock brakes- the vehicle does all the work for the student; it automatically computes the pressure on the tires to make sure that the wheels do not lock up Threshold braking- the student should not slam on their brakes when wanting to stop quickly. If the brake pedal is pushed all the way to the floor, there is 100% pressure on the brake. The student should learn waiver the brake pressure between 60% to 80% until the vehicle is stopped.
_____ Explain open intersections and right-of-way- Remind the student about stop sign procedures or open intersections without stop signs or lights when coming to intersections.
_____ Stop sign procedure for two-way vs. four-way- Always come to a full stop behind the sidewalk, then creep forward until vision permits the driver to be able to see adequately in both directions; fully stop again or go depending on circumstance.
_____ Curb procedure/lane changes with head check- Always signal first, check inside mirror (rearview mirror) then the outside mirror (in the direction you are going), head tilt, and then roll into a head check-looking to (back) side of the car (not the rear of the car).
_____ Slowing and stopping at an intersection or turning- Always brake earlier rather than later. Look in rearview mirror before braking to make sure you're safe to brake. Give yourself ample enough time to brake and come to a smooth stop.
_____ Demonstrate and explain right and left turns- Have the student initiate a right angle turn. Slow to 5-10 mph, check the rear-view mirror to make sure the vehicle behind you is aware you're slowing down, get off brake, then turn wheel, then accelerate on the way out of the turn to help straighten out the vehicle until reaching the speed limit. For left-hand turns, have the student drive directly into intersection to turn on a green light (leaving enough room for an ambulance to pass through if it had to). Check for pedestrians before the last car passes when turning either left or right.
_____ Parking lot maneuvers- Have student pull forward into spaces and back into spaces. Tell the student to: 1.) Go slow, 2.) Turn hard, 3.) Don't back up any further than necessary.
_____ Backing- straight! with turns- Left hand should be at 12:00 position on the steering wheel and the right hand behind the headrest of the passenger seat. Always look out of the back window, unless backing towards the driver's side. Backing should be done in a straight line, with adjustments being made by turning the top of the steering wheel in the direction you want the back of the car to go.
_____ Straight driving with multi-lane traffic- Have the student get used to driving around other cars.
_____ Roadway markings, traffic lights, and signs- Keep eyes scanning with fast but frequent looks. Make sure students start to read and identify all regulatory signs. Quiz more advanced students on "what did that last sign say that we just passed?"
_____ Parallel parking and parking on hills- "Three point parallel parking" is: preceded with turn signal on and a slow approach stopping two feet away from the side of the car in front of desired parking place, and matching or lining up the back bumpers. Step #1.) Put on your right turn signal, turn steering wheel one full turn to the right and back up until car is at 45º angle in the front. Step #2.) Straighten out wheels with one full turn of the steering wheel to the left, put on your right turn signal, and then back up until the front bumper is lined up with the other car's back bumper. Step #3.) Turn steering wheel all the way to the left, put on your right turn signal, and back into parking place until straight, then curb tire if necessary and if so, explain to the student why this is done. Downhill curb procedure: turn wheels towards the curb. When parking uphill turn wheels away from the curb. When parking uphill without a curb turn wheels away from the road.

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City Skills Lesson

_____ Review slowing down as well as right and left turns- The student must check for pedestrians before the last vehicle passes, not after. Before a turn, have the student initiate their correct turn signal (either right or left) and check the rear-view mirror for the vehicle behind you to make sure they notice you are slowing down. Slow to 5-10 mph, checking again for pedestrians, get off the brake, then turn the wheel and accelerate on the way out of the turn at its apex to help straighten out the vehicle until reaching the speed limit.
_____ Explain school zones and bus signals- Make sure the student adjusts their speed in an active school zone and is actively aware when around a bus.
_____ Multiple traffic light intersections- Explain turn arrows and multiple traffic lights as well as lanes. Caution the student about left-only lanes with solid green lights (no turn arrows).
_____ Turn only lanes and double turn lanes- Slow down after entering the left turn lane. Have the student be extra tight on the inside double turn lane and extra wide on outside double turn lane.
_____ Right and left turns at red lights- If the intersection allows a right or a left hand turn on red (left hand turns on red for one-way street), make sure the students check for traffic both ways with several quick looks right before turning and entering the correct lane of traffic.
_____ One-way streets/ medium traffic- Students should practice driving on, and become familiar with, one-way streets.
_____ Passing on a one-way road or a two-way road- Adjusting speed is important in passing. Since two-way street passing is dangerous, start on multiple-lane roads.
_____ Review angle and perpendicular parking- Angular parking is a high risk and dangerous maneuver. Practice angular parking in the middle of a block; avoid practicing in parking spaces close to corners.
_____ Lane changes and adjusting speed- Emphasize that the student should turn on their turn signal light first, checking both mirrors, and adjusting speed as necessary to safely merge into traffic.
_____ Demonstrate low gear hold- Have the student place the vehicle into 2nd gear or 1st gear while traveling on long, steep grades.
_____ Make a U-turn- Use left signal to get into left lane, look both directions & when clear turn sharp left.

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Freeway Skills Lesson

_____ Review lane changes- ANTICIPATION is the key word in this lesson. It is required of all drivers at these higher speeds. Remind the student that a typical lane change at freeway speeds requires acceleration and not braking and is accomplished at angles not with the turn of the wheel.
_____ Entering and/ or holding proper lane in heavy traffic- Always pick up speed in the acceleration lane to match the speed of traffic that you are entering, accelerating to pull away from cars in each lane you enter.
_____ Practice multiple lane changes in heavy traffic- Use a stair step method to change from lane to lane. Move over to the center lane of traffic and have the student keep up with the flow. Return to the right lane if the flow is too fast.
_____ Mirror monitoring- Have the student do quick and frequent looking (approximately every 3 seconds) into the rear-view mirror. By monitoring traffic coming from behind, the student should always know if he/she has an out (escape route) to the right or left.
_____ Practice turns on and off main arteries in heavy traffic- Remember to anticipate, match the speed of the traffic. Have the student adjust speed as needed. Watch the 1-3 seconds following distance very closely.
_____ Practice freeway ramp techniques for entering and exiting/ double exits- For exiting the freeway- hug the right white line until the left wheel is out of the lane, only then start slowing to the posted ramp speed. For entering the freeway: Signal left, accelerate and go as fast as the bend and safety allows, then accelerate on the way out of the bend. Once the vehicle can be held straight, look behind to see traffic. Keep accelerating during this look. Then adjust speed to match the flow of traffic, cancel signal.

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