How to Teach a Child to Drive

Many parents are nervous when allowing their children to drive for the first time, especially since the California Department of Motor Vehicles reports that young drivers between ages 16 and 19 have more car accidents than any other age group in the United States 1. Common reasons for these accidents include high-risk behaviors and lack of driving skill -- which often means the child did not receive the proper instruction. Take the time to teach your child how to drive in a proper manner to prevent her from becoming a tragic statistic.

Teach your child road safety rules. Before allowing your child to drive anywhere, it is vital he learns the rules of the road. You can set some personal rules as well, according to the National Institutes of Health 2. These rules can limit the number of passengers your child has in the car and where he is allowed to take the vehicle.

Instruct your child to drive in a straight line both forward and backward in an empty parking lot. This allows her to learn the basics without any added pressure, KidsHealth reports 3. Do not exit the parking lot until she has a grasp of driving in a straight line.

Practice accelerating and braking smoothly with your teen. Make sure she can do this without losing control of the vehicle. Keep a close eye on how she turns in the parking lot, as cutting corners could lead to problems down the road.

Keep all practice sessions short. Don't force your child to take in too much at once, so end the first few sessions after about 20 minutes. Once he is more confident behind the wheel, you can lengthen these sessions to an hour or more.

Travel on predetermined routes. Once you leave the parking lot, you should know exactly where you are heading before each outing. In doing so, you can avoid dangerous intersections and busy roads along the way, reports KidsHealth.

Enforce restrictions. These restrictions can include when your child is allowed to drive and who she can have in the car with her, suggests Also, practice driving in rain and snow with her before allowing to do so on her own.

Work on more advanced skills. These include changing lanes, approaching traffic lights, using ramps and merging into traffic, KidsHealth notes.


If you do not feel comfortable teaching your child how to drive, enlist the help of a professional driving school.


Even with the proper training, driving is a dangerous activity for young people that can lead to injury or death.