Learning to drive is part of growing up. Many teens begin driving lessons soon after they turn 17. The lessons teach learners how to operate a vehicle as well as about road rules and safety regulations. In short, they prepare learners for the theory test and practical exam, which they must pass before being granted a licence.
Many teens that are looking forward to obtaining their licence skip taking lessons, preferring to get behind the wheel and learn as they go along. This is potentially dangerous, as they may be putting the lives of others at risk, especially when they are not informed or pay no heed to traffic signs.
Which comes first?
There are many who argue that getting behind the wheel is the best way to learn practical driving quickly. That may be true, but it is also important to know about safety and the technicalities involved in driving. So which should come first?
Teens learn about road safety at a young age. They are taught how to cross the road properly, to put their seatbelts on, and what traffic lights and some road signs mean. Most of the education they get as children comes from their parents, so it is up to parents to teach children that safety always comes first. Young teens eager to learn how to drive also watch how their parents do it and can identify a vehicle’s controls.
Is that enough?
Teens that are learning to drive usually have some basic knowledge about road safety and driving. This does not mean that learners should do away with ‘proper’ lessons altogether, because professional driving instructors can provide them with further information about driving regulations, road rules and signs, and technical vehicle operations that parents may be best placed to teach. Driving schools make use of the official Highway Code to teach learners, as well as giving them essential skills in their chosen vehicle category.
There are schools that also offer basic troubleshooting and advanced driving courses. Many newly licenced individuals choose to continue learning by taking advanced driving lessons, such as for driving on motorways and at night. These practical lessons give drivers more experience so that they can build up their confidence to drive alone. Driving at night requires drivers to be more cautious when watching out for hazards and traffic signs, but signs are useless unless they are understood. Knowledge and safety truly come first.
The learning process
Once the learner is acquainted with the instructor, he or she is taught the basic controls. Familiarisation is important so that learners can use the right lever or switch without having to take their eyes off the road. From there, instructors guide learners through different challenges to build up their skills for the practical test. Along the way, learners will encounter traffic signs and road scenes in which they will put to use their knowledge of road safety.
The rules of the road, safety, and practical driving go hand in hand when teaching young people how to drive responsibly. All are important when it comes to taking the driving test, which involves theory, hazard perception and practical driving. When teaching teens about driving, the main lesson should always be: safety first.