Better Ways to Teach Teens to Drive

Sue Shellenbarger:

It’s one of the most dreaded rites of child-rearing—teaching a teenager to drive.

Many parents are riding shotgun with their teens for 40 hours or more to provide the supervised practice required to get a driver’s license in most states. Most do a good job of teaching steering, parking and controlling the car. Parents are not so good, however, at teaching the skills young drivers need to actually avoid accidents, according to new research. Now, there are new techniques and even guides that have grown out of new scientific research into the parent-child dynamic in the car.

Suzy Hoyle of Wallingford, Pa., has taught two of her three children to drive. “It’s a scary ride,” she says, “but I think it’s very important they gain confidence and learn that they can do it.” She has picked up tips from friends (have your teen drive on snow, stash the cellphone in the glove compartment) and refrained from criticizing her daughter Ashley, now 18, when she hugged the right shoulder, uncomfortably close to several trees.