5 Critical Things to Keep Your New Driver Safe

At South Jersey Driving School, we seem to get one question asked over and over again from parents right after we complete the 6 hours behind the wheel driver training for NJ permit drivers:

What are some things we should be doing to be sure our son/daughter stays safe when driving?

Of course this is a question that is asked!  It’s completely understandable since parents are never really taught how to teach teens to drive, yet they have this awesome responsibility!

Remember, 6 hours is only the beginning of a life-long journey to become a safe, confident and defensive driver.  And like anything else – it has to begin with the basics. A good, solid foundation is critical to ensure proper and safe driving.

Here are our 5 behind the wheel strategies to keep new drivers safe when they are just starting out:

  1. Properly Position Yourself Prior to Moving

Many drivers fail to position themselves correctly in their cars. This can cause serious discomfort while driving and even prevent the ability to control the car properly and effectively. On the flip side, a well-adjusted seat can dramatically improve your ability to drive more safely, prevent crashes, and stay comfortable during your drive.

A sure-fire way to ensure proper positioning is to remember to always position yourself in the car properly prior to starting out… With your back comfortably rested against the backrest, you must be able to easily reach behind the brake pedal and touch the wall. Also, while being able to reach the pedals comfortably, your chin should clear the top of the steering wheel/dashboard. Take your time adjusting the seat and familiarizing yourself with the controls of your seat, whether automatic or manual. These few minutes are worth it!

  1. Mirrors Matter

Once you have your seat right where you want it, your next step is to get the mirrors properly adjusted. THIS IS CRITICAL!   A properly adjusted mirror will help you reduce blind spots, and give you the most visibility.

It may surprise you to learn that there is a better way to set the rearview mirrors on your car. The quick test: if you look in your side mirrors and you see the side of the car, then you’re not using the mirror’s capacity! Most people have a huge overlap between the center and side rearview mirrors, which is unnecessary. Spread your side mirrors and while sitting in your proper seating position you should be able to have the best possible view of behind your car.

  1. Gear, steer, check and go

Follow these steps when stating your drive: Gear, steer, check and go. Make sure you are in gear, steer the way you want to go, check your blind spots, and then go. These steps are crucial and you should not skip or avoid the process. Practice saying it out loud every time you pull out of your garage and parking spot until it becomes a habit and eventually second nature.

  1. It’s not WATCH OUT! It is release and cover.

Shouting things like: “BRAKE” “SLOW DOWN” “WATCH OUT” “OH MY GOD” or many others can alarm anybody when driving, especially a new driver. It’s important to stay calm and in control, so South Jersey Driving School uses a different approach.

When wanting your new driver to brake, ask them to “release the gas”, and “cover the brake”. Using these verbal “cues” can put you and your driver at ease and result in a much better driving experience.

Also, always remember to be a good passenger and set the example. Eliminate all of your distractions as a passenger, such as talking on the phone and checking emails, so you can dedicate the proper (an appropriate) attention to coaching and guiding your new driver.

  1. 15 Minutes for the first 15 days

When first going out on the road with a new driver, limit your practice driving to 15 minutes at a time for the first several outings. It’s the ideal amount for both student and parent! A lot can happen in 15 minutes and it can feel like an eternity for somebody with less than a year of driving experience.

More importantly, as a parent, it‘s important to make the experience pleasurable and educational. If you’re driving for longer than 15 minutes at a time, the new driver can get tired, and often, discouraged if any mistakes are made. Parents also seem to be more on-edge, nervous and stressed out as well.

At South Jersey Driving School, we’ve found that a great way to make the most out of this practice driving is to plan the route ahead of time. Next time you’re driving, see how much ground you cover in 15 minutes. Notice how many stop lights, intersections, highways, single-lane roads, etc. you encounter on your trip. Be deliberate and take control of the route. This way, you’ll be more familiar with the route and be more likely to remain in a calm and confident position to help guide your new driver.

15 minutes won’t take much out of your day, but it will make a huge and positive impact on your new driver’s driving experience.

So there you have it. Follow my 5 proven strategies for keeping a new driver safe and you’ll be on your way to stress-free and safe driving.

If you’re interested in learning more about helpful driving tips, or have any questions, you can find out more information by clicking here, or please call us at (856) 235-7333 or email us at [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you!