Passenger parents

For some parents, teaching children to drive is harder than giving birth

Teaching your children how to drive is one of the most difficult experiences parents go through

Teaching your children how to drive is one of the most difficult experiences parents go through

Teaching your children how to drive is one of the most difficult experiences parents go through, according to new research by AA Driving School.

One in twenty people (5%) think getting into the passenger seat with their learner child driving is the most difficult thing parents do – more so than giving birth, getting through school exams and dealing with illness.

The same number thought children getting their first boyfriend or girlfriend is the hardest experience for parents, slightly more (7%) think birth is the biggest challenge and slightly less (4%) chose the first day at school.

The AA/Populus survey of 11,361 people understandably showed illness as the most common choice (40%), followed by school exams (10%).

Vital on-road experience

The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) says it takes learners, on average, 45 hours of professional tuition and 22 hours of private practice to pass their driving test. Private practice helps learners get vital on-road experience so they can pass their test and go on to be safe and confident drivers.

Any amount of extra practice with friends or family is associated with a higher driving test pass rate, so it’s really important that learners have this chance

Jim Kirkwood, AA Driving School

Comment

Jim Kirkwood, managing director of AA Driving School, said: “Taking your children out for private practice doesn’t have to be stressful and it certainly shouldn’t be harder than giving birth or getting through a period of illness.

“Any amount of extra practice with friends or family is associated with a higher driving test pass rate*, so it’s really important that learners have this chance. But, it’s also important that those people taking learners for private practice feel comfortable doing so."

Taking a bit of time to re-familiarise yourself with the Highway Code and current driving practices can give people the boost they need to take to the passenger seat with confidence.

It will also help the learner get the most from the time and stop them picking up bad habits from their supervising passenger.

Other AA figures** show that half of UK drivers have supervised a learner on private practice.

But it isn’t always easy to teach someone to drive, especially as private cars do not have dual-controls or a professional and patient instructor in the passenger seat.

Supporting Learner Drivers

AA Driving School has a pioneering Supporting Learner Drivers course, which puts parents back in the driving seat with an AA instructor to help them develop skills for coaching learners.  The course is designed to ensure practice drives complement and reinforce the syllabus taught to learners in lessons with a professional driving instructor.

Tips for supervising learner drivers

  • Ask them what they have been learning in their lessons and consolidate that with practice rather than trying something new. 
  • Remember the law: it is illegal to use a mobile phone when you are supervising a learner. In the eyes of the law, it is the supervisor who is in control of the car.
  • To supervise a learner driver, you must be over 21 and have held, and still hold, a full UK licence for the vehicle you are teaching in, for a minimum of three years.
  • Don’t lose your patience. If you think you are going to, ask the learner to pull over in a safe place and try to calmly discuss what was going wrong.
  • Try to give them as broad an experience as possible: go out at different times of day, on different routes and in different weather.

(24 August 2012)

* DfT Road Safety Research Report No.81 – Cohort II: A study of learner and new drivers

** 18,732 AA/Populus members surveyed in July 2010