How to Teach an Adult to Drive

by Contributor

Teaching an adult to drive is not the same experience as teaching a teen. You must be willing to instruct a self-sufficient person who may feel frustrated carrying the role of student. If the new driver is a family member or spouse, the teacher/student relationship can be even more troublesome. If you're ready to face the challenges of such an arrangement, these tips are for you.

Be respectful. Your student is likely to be nervous about driving. In addition, he may have spent years feeling embarrassed about the lack of a driver's license. Speak to him one on one, as a peer. Remember you're teaching a fully grown, capable adult to drive, not a child.

Relax as much as you possibly can. Remain calm and make no sudden moves. New drivers are nervous creatures, and it's never wise to spook a jumpy person maneuvering a 3,000 lb. machine. Especially a machine you can't control.

Hold your lessons in a remote location. You must keep away from highways and people. Beginners are often unfamiliar with the capabilities of the vehicle. While they get the hang of it, the fewer obstacles that they have, the better. An abandoned parking lot or field (with the owner's permission, of course) can make excellent training sites.

Practice maneuvers with the car in park. Calmly issue commands such as "Left turn" and watch how your student performs. Instruct her as necessary. ("Don't forget to turn your head and look over that left shoulder." "Down is the left signal, up is the right.") Remember to praise her efforts; it's a humbling experience to learn to drive as an adult.

Graduate slowly and always at the driver's pace. It's a driving lesson, not a method of torture. As an adult, your protégé has been making decisions for quite some time without help. Give the driver control over when to move from parking lots to real roads.

Bring on new challenges one at a time. Adults commonly multitask. You must get your student out of such a mindset. As with any Driver's Ed course, your student must first learn the rules of the road before practicing behind the wheel in a controlled location. When he's ready, the next step is dirt roads, then night driving, and finally highways. Follow a gradual path from one skill to the next; always ensuring a level is mastered before moving on.

Have fun. A relaxed person can comprehend and retain more information than a nervous one, and a good sense of humor can make the driving lessons more enjoyable for both of you.

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