Coaching Your New Driver

James Phelps

Parents and grandparents who ensure that teenagers get ample practice in a wide variety of situations and transfer their safe driving wisdom to their novice drivers are more likely to help their teens develop the necessary skills to be safer drivers themselves. Teens continue to have the highest crash rate of any age group, so it’s critical that their adult family members are involved.

Teaching your teen driver can be a daunting task, but AAA has several tips and resources to assist. Let's start with the "Dos” and “Don’ts.”


  • Share your driving wisdom and experience.
  • Stay calm when your teen says, "Don't yell at me!"
  • Drive in different conditions (weather, lighting, road types).
  • Aim for smoothness – pretend there’s a cup of water on the dash and you don’t want to spill a drop.
  • Take breaks – every 25 minutes or so and discuss progress.



  • Take the same route twice; do use a slightly different route each time.
  • View your teen as your chauffeur – they need your eyes, attention and coaching.
  • Focus too much on basic maneuvers (turning, etc.) – your teen will pick up those up quickly.
  • Say too much but offer immediate feedback when appropriate; however, do fully debrief after each session.


It's essential to keep in mind that your teen views you as a role model. When you're driving, drive the way you want your teen to drive. Buckle up, follow the rules of the road, focus on driving and turn the cell phone off.

For more information and additional teen driving resources from AAA, please visit You'll find everything you need to make the learning process more manageable and, more importantly, to make your teen a safer driver.

Author: James Phelps, President & CEO