Teach Your Teen to Drive Lesson 7: Communicating On The Road

Drivers cannot rely on words to communicate on the road. New drivers need to learn a new type of communication that relies on signs, signals and anticipating situations based on what they see on the road. Your teen needs to learn how to make sure other drivers see them and how to let those drivers know what they plan to do.

Follow our weekly summer series on teaching your teen how to drive — sharing these important driving tips in small doses may help you and your teen cover more ground.

Communicating While Driving

Practice communicating when changing direction and speed. Make sure your new driver learns to signal before changing lanes, turning corners and entering and exiting highways. Show them how to use brake lights and hand signals to communicate to others when they want to slow, stop or park.

Your Role as Driving Instructor

As the two of you drive along, try to make an effort to point out when other drivers fail to communicate. Teach your teen that a good rule of thumb for making a turn is to try to signal before using the brakes, so the driver behind will know when your vehicle is going to slow down.

Remind your new driver to pay attention to the traffic behind their vehicle. To avoid being hit from the rear, suggest that your teen check the mirrors and pump the brakes before slowing or stopping.

Common Problems

  • New drivers can become overly concerned with putting on the signal indicator.
  • Sometimes, they fail to let the vehicle straighten out from a curve or a previous turn before trying to signal for the next turn.
  • Make sure your teenager waits until the vehicle is straight before attempting to signal again.

Beware of new drivers risking the loss of steering control when trying to use the signal lever. Have your teen practice using it without taking their eyes off the road or hands off the steering wheel. This can also hold true for operating other instruments in the vehicle while driving, especially in heavy traffic. You may need to remind your new driver to wait to tune the radio or use other instruments while in an intersection — and wait for a calmer section of roadway.

Key Lesson

Make sure other drivers can see your vehicle, and let other drivers know what you plan to do.

Places to Practice

Communicating can be practiced on any type of road. Actually, by reminding your new driver to signal for every turn in a quiet neighborhood, signaling will become almost automatic when driving in traffic. With good signaling skills, your teen can spend more time focused on other important driving decisions.

Next week’s lesson: Prevent Distracted Driving