A woman learning how to drive crashes into a church and dies

Authorities say a husband was teaching his wife how to drive when she drove off the roadway and struck a church. She was pronounced dead at the scene.


Teaching your teenager to drive

As you read above teaching anyone to drive is no game, and something that most parents tackle at some time or another. Many parents and teens have great trepidation and fear for this event. Though it can be a real “nerve tester”, done right, it can be a safe, bonding and even enjoyable experience for both parent and teen. Below are some ideas which will help you teach your teen to drive while maintaining an era of safety. Your attitude as the adult teacher is critical. Calm, relaxed, controlled demeanor on your part will cross over to your teen.


Review Digest of Ohio Motor Vehicle Laws

In this publication you will be reminded of things you may have forgotten and some things that are new to you. You can also talk with your teen about the things they are learning in their driver education class.

Hand Positions Maybe New to You the Parent

When I was taught to drive, and I suspect you too, I was taught that the hands should be at the 10:00 and 2:00 position on the steering wheel. But today because of Air Bags and advanced understanding of car control new preferred hand positions have been incorporated. Now the two accepted positions are 9:00 and 3:00 or 7:00 and 5:00. These allow for the expelling of the Air Bag should a crash require it and with the hands lower on the steering wheel the driver actually has more control of the vehicle.

Stopping at stop signs – One and Two stop cases

Again some things have changed and stop signs are not exempt. Today we teach 3 different approaches to the Stop Signed Intersections. As you approach a stop intersection you must keep your eyes moving gathering as much information about the intersection, pedestrians, and other vehicles as you can. As you get close to your stop you must look for and stop at one of three stopping points. FIRST Stopping Point: White Stop Lines which are painted on the road surface and designate where you’re to stop your car’s bumper. At any white stop line you must stop before the vehicle passes the line preferably 8 to 10 inches before the line. SECOND Stopping Point: If you do not see a white stop line then you look for a Sidewalk. Stop your vehicle just 8 to 10 inches before the sidewalk leaving room for pedestrians to cross. THIRD Stopping Point: At intersections where neither a white line or sidewalk are present you can stop your vehicle at Point-of-Vision (POV) which is just before the edge of the intersecting roadway, making certain your front bumper does not cross over into the street. All three of these are first stopping positions. Now if you stop at either a white line or a sidewalk, and you cannot see clearly in both directions at least 200 feet, then you must make a 2nd stop at the POV (see Chart). For example; this is done by making a complete stop at the white line, after stopping and looking both ways, you realize you cannot clearly see in one or both directions, you move your vehicle forward to the POV and make a complete stop again, looking both ways, left and right till traffic is clear then proceed with caution.

Running commentary

Running commentary is a useful technique that is implemented by most driver training instructors to help new drivers learn to identify and react to conditions, situations and dangers that change constantly any time you drive. It will help you focus on the task at hand, namely teaching your teen to drive. Just driving and talking about things not pertaining driving can befall anyone including the seasoned instructor, if we are not focused, on learning to drive. Calmly talk with your teen telling them what you are seeing as they drive and asking them from time to time what they are seeing, preparing them to see in advance what is ahead greatly reduces risk that they will be caught off guard. Example: “As we approach this intersection I see that truck on the left with his left turn signal and he seems to be waiting, and I see two people at the corner who may step out in front of us…” This helps the new driver to better understand the many things that must be done in order to safely drive on today’s busy roads. As a seasoned driver you do this without thinking, now you can pass some of your experience onto your teenager.


Parking lots are good for first time with your teen Behind-The-Wheel (BTW)

Never put yourself in unnecessary and risky situations. Often parents boldly jump in with both feet, having their teen jumping into dangerous driving conditions on their first time out BTW. This can lead to crashes and even death. It is difficult to impossible to control the vehicle from the passenger side without specialized equipment and this inability to control is unnerving for the parent and the student. Speed will multiply the danger and the results from higher speed crashes can be deadly. You can reduce risk: Avoid the fast lanes by taking your new driver to a large vacant parking area where there is little to no traffic and allow your new driver to get used to the vehicle in small steps. Areas where there is plenty of room to maneuver safely, not busy malls. This will reduce risk, and tension making the whole experience more productive, enjoyable and safe.

¨      Check around your vehicle for objects that may be in your intended path and could cause damage.

¨      Getting familiar with the vehicle help to relax the student. Never assume that your teen knows anything. Simple things to you like where is the gas gauge and how do you read it, may be a point of stress for the new driver. Take time to point out the “where’s and how’s” of the dashboard and floor areas. Where should your left foot be? Where is the Temperature Gauge? Show me the Brake and the Gas and Parking Brake. How do you use the defroster, the A/C, and heater? What do all the “Red Lights” mean?

¨      Adjust seats, mirrors, and steering wheel.

¨      Always: All passengers fasten seatbelts.

¨      Putting the vehicle into motion – Teach your teen how to gently squeeze the accelerator for smooth starting.

¨      Stopping the vehicle. – Practice stopping without jerky movements and at designated points, by squeezing the brake with slight release just before the stop. (You can use the lines in the parking lot for stopping points.) Have the student look at a point 200 to 300 feet away and drive to that point and stop at a designated place, all the time watching for other vehicles.

¨      Practicing Left and Right turning maneuvers. Using painted lanes as turning points can help the new driver to look ahead to their turn and plan the proper course of action.

¨      Practice looking over the right and left shoulders (checking blind spots) while keeping the vehicle in a straight path. Relax arms and shoulders to keep from pushing or pulling the steering wheel causing the vehicle to veer out of the lane.

Whenever you drive with your teen keep your instructions simple and clear don’t give too much information. Remember that what they learn should be stretched out over 50 hours of driving time so you don’t want to overburden your new driver, let them learn gradually.


From Parking Lot to the Street

Once you and your new driver have built confidence you are ready to move to the streets. The neighborhood is a good place to begin. Plenty of stop streets with speeds of 25 MPH and because you started off slowly you will have less anxiety and be more positioned to help and teach your teen.

¨      Reinforce previously learned material such as:

o        Stopping points White Lines, Sidewalks & Point of Vision

¨      Scanning is critical and can be used to keep drivers safe. Look to both sides right and left and using mirrors check the rear of the vehicle. Practice looking 8 to 10 seconds ahead of your vehicle. Look for traffic signs, road markings, and signals as you approach intersections. Have your teen point out these signs as you drive. Also look for changes in traffic and for vehicles that might be too close to you. Help your new driver to practice keeping space around their vehicle by identifying the danger and either slowing or changing lanes. This keeps space around you so you have more time to reacted should anything happen.

¨      Point out and talk about cross traffic and pedestrians. Talk about who has right of way.

¨      Ask your new driver to point out some of the dangers as they drive. Children playing, cars backing out of driveways, bicycles, parked vehicles with driver or passenger who may open a door, animals and others.


Faster Country Roads

When you feel you and your teen are both ready you can take a short enjoyable road trip to some of Ohio’s beautiful country side roads where speeds are 35 MPH to 55 MPH. Things to cover are:

¨      Longer stopping: Because of greater speeds have teens practice stopping earlier.

¨      Hills and Turns: Have your teen point out and discuss why these areas are called blind areas.

¨      Passing and no-passing zones: Help them understand the differences between solid and dashed yellow lines.

¨      A little patience: Something we all need teach patience while behind slow moving traffic such as farm vehicles

¨      Animals: Especially around dawn and dusk animals like deer, possum and raccoons can be a hazard.



Now that your new driver has accumulated and practiced driving skills in the previous steps they are more confident and relaxed. The skills such as turning their heads to check blind-spots and driving the vehicle in a straight line while looking over there shoulder will greatly benefit the teens as they drive for the first time on an Interstate highway. Remember your attitude è Calm, relaxed, controlled.

¨      Review proper passing; lane changes and merging.

¨      Review the procedure for using the acceleration ramp and checking for traffic.

¨      Review merging in with moving traffic.

o        Note: Never stop at the end of an acceleration ramp. If needed use the shoulder of the road ahead. This will prevent being rear-ended by another vehicle entering the expressway.

¨      Once on the expressway practice changing lanes, passing and exiting.


City Driving

Don’t be fooled by the speeds, city driving has been saved for the last step because of the multiple threats and for tremendous challenges it poses to drivers young and old. The expressway may move at faster speeds, but in the city more happens and it happens quickly. More vehicles, buses, delivery trucks, pedestrians, complex intersections, short notice changes in traffic patterns, constant changing of lanes and stop and go traffic. Not a place for the novice and never a good place to start learning. But now that you have done the first four steps, your teen should have enough experience to bring calm to this new learning endeavor.

¨      Plan you city trip ahead of time to be during the daytime while most people are at work, not during rush hour when people are going to or from work or lunch.

¨      As you drive pay special attention, pointing out lane position signs early so you are always in the proper lane for your intended path.

¨      To help keep things calm, give instruction well in advance of turns and lane changes giving your teen as much time to think as possible.

¨      If your driver makes a mistake, for example gets in the wrong lane and is forced to turn, it is ok, just turn. Point out what happened and help them learn. Try again. Don’t expect your new driver to make the quick changes that you might be able to do easily yourself; it might not be so easy for them. Better to use plan B.


Most importantly - you need to encourage your teen.  Remember they are nervous and encouraging, calm words will help them relax and be a better, safer driver  Here are a few phrases that might help– You’re doing a good job, I’m proud of you, you’re such a good driver, I think I could sleep while you drive, I’m going to let you drive me everywhere from now on, don’t worry about that mistake – just learn from it.  .


We hope this will help you to work together with your teen, a partnership in education, a preparation for a long and safe driving future. Best wishes to you all from all of us at Best Defense Driving Academy.