Teaching New Drivers How to Drive

Written By | Doreen Almirol | 20+ years CA DMV Licensed Driving Instructor  |

Embarking on the journey of learning to drive is both exciting and nerve-wracking. As a mentor, your role in guiding a new driver through the initial stages is crucial for building confidence and instilling safe driving habits. This comprehensive guide outlines the key steps and tips to effectively teach new drivers how to start driving.

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Teaching New Drivers How to Drive

1  |  Understanding the Basics

Start with a thorough introduction to the vehicle’s controls: steering wheel, pedals, gear shift, mirrors, and lights.

Explain the purpose and function of each control to demystify the driving experience.


2  |  Getting Comfortable in the Driver’s Seat

Begin in a quiet, open space to allow the new driver to become familiar with the feel of the car.

Adjust the driver’s seat, mirrors, and steering wheel for optimal comfort and visibility.  Ensure the driver can comfortably reach both pedals and the steering wheel.


3  |  Mastering the Basics of Starting and Stopping

Teach the correct foot placement on the pedals: right foot on the brake, left foot on the clutch (if applicable). ONLY use right foot to control the gas AND brake pedal, alternatively.

Practice starting the engine, smoothly accelerating, and coming to a controlled stop. Start in a large, empty parking lot to safely familiarize drivers with brake and gas pedals.

4  |  Understanding Traffic Rules and Signs

Cover essential traffic rules, road signs, and signals to ensure a foundational understanding of the driving environment.

Discuss the importance of following speed limits, road markings (especially for turns), and traffic signals (especially when yielding to other cars).

RELATED ARTICLE: Commonly Misunderstood Traffic Signs

5  |  Safe Steering Techniques

Demonstrate proper hand placement on the steering wheel (9 and 3 o’clock positions).

Practice turning, changing lanes, and maintaining a consistent speed while steering smoothly.

6  |  Navigating Residential Areas

Start in residential neighborhoods with low traffic to practice basic maneuvers.

Focus on parking, making turns at intersections, and observing right of way.

7  |  Introducing Parking Skills

Teach parking techniques, including parallel parking (pulling to the curb), perpendicular parking, and angle parking.

Practice these skills in an empty parking lot before attempting them on the street.


8  |  Gradual Introduction to Traffic

Progress to busier streets as the new driver gains confidence.

Emphasize the importance of scanning for pedestrians, cyclists, and other vehicles.

9  |  Handling Intersections and Traffic Signals

Guide the new driver through navigating intersections, obeying traffic lights, and understanding right of way.

Stress the significance of anticipating changes in traffic flow.

RELATED ARTICLE: Right of Way Rules

10 |  Night Driving and Adverse Conditions

Introduce driving at night and in adverse weather conditions.

Discuss the challenges and adjustments required for reduced visibility and slippery roads.

RELATED ARTICLE: Driving in Adverse Conditions

11 |  Building Defensive Driving Skills

Emphasize the importance of defensive driving, anticipating the actions of other drivers, and staying alert to potential hazards.

Encourage the use of mirrors and regular scanning to maintain situational awareness.

RELATED ARTICLES: Defensive Driving

12 |  Mock Driving Tests

Conduct mock driving tests to simulate the conditions of a real driving exam.

Provide constructive feedback on areas for improvement.

13 |  Reviewing Emergency Procedures

Discuss how to handle emergency situations, such as a tire blowout or brake failure.

Ensure the new driver is familiar with the location and operation of safety features.

14 |  Encouraging Responsible Attitudes

Emphasize the importance of responsible and respectful driving behavior.

Discuss the consequences of distracted driving and the dangers of driving under the influence.

15 |  Practicing Patience and Support

Be patient and supportive throughout the learning process.

Acknowledge achievements and address mistakes constructively to build confidence.

Teaching New Drivers How to Drive

Remember, teaching someone to drive is a gradual process, and each new driver progresses at their own pace. By following this guide, you provide a solid foundation for safe and responsible driving habits that will last a lifetime. Celebrate milestones, instill confidence, and watch as your new driver evolves into a skilled and conscientious member of the driving community. Safe travels!

Start Your Journey of Responsible Driving Today!

Gear up for success on your permit test! Prepare with confidence using Express Driving School’s comprehensive guide. Don’t leave it to chance—study thoroughly to ace the test. Your journey on the road starts with a solid foundation. Seize the opportunity to excel and embark on a safe and knowledgeable driving experience!