In the state of Ohio, teens get a learning driver’s permit at 15 1/2. The goal of the law is to give teens more driving time with a parent in an effort to reduce risks associated with teen driving. Use that time wisely by addressing these three standards.
Besides the basics of buckling up and not talking on the phone or texting while driving, safety first is about being an observant driver. One of the best skills you can teach your teen driver is how to control a skid. Find a safe place — maybe a large empty parking lot — and have the teen practice steering the car out of a skid. Once they understand how their car reacts to events like hard stops or slick surfaces, they will be more confident should a real skid happen.
Teach your teen to drive in such a way that if another driver’s fails to react appropriately, they still have adequate time to escape the situation. One way to safely teach this technique is for the teen to drive in heavy traffic while you teach them how to gauge distance with the 3-second rule. Have them find a fix marker — like a sign post — and start counting slowly once the vehicle ahead of them passes the imaginary line. If their car passes the line in less than 3 seconds they are following the vehicle too closely.
Once your teen is fairly skilled at driving, see how observant they are by playing 20 questions. Ask them — without letting them look in their rearview mirror — what is the color of the car following them. How much fuel is in the tank? How fast are they driving (without looking at speedometer)? Are there vehicles to their left or right? The goal is not to trip them up, but to make sure they are aware of their speed, their environment and what is going on with their vehicle at all times.
Handing over the keys to your teen driver is hard, but you can improve their chances of being a safe driver by spending a lot of time in the vehicle with them while they are learning. During the supervisory period of their learning permit, give them the keys and let them drive you everywhere so you can instruct and supervise.