You don't have to be an expert when supervising a learner driver. Your most valuable role is to give your child plenty of practice time behind the wheel. If you aren't available, they are unable to gain valuable driving experience. It also pays to remember the chance of an accident is very low for learners with an experienced driver beside them in the car.
Where to start – background reading
- First read the VicRoads Learner Kit which will give you an outline of what you need to know and your obligations when supervising a learner driver.
- Brush up on your road laws by reading Driving in Victoria: rules and responsibilities.
- Think about giving your child professional driving tuition. Contact VicRoads for details or call 13 11 71.
- Talk to friends about their experience with learner drivers for some ideas on the best approach for you.
The basics – the car
- Once you have explained the basics of the car start your learner driver in a quite area or empty car park so they can get a feel for the car and its basic controls. Practice taking off smoothly, stopping, changing gears (if they are learning in a manual car) and braking.
- Be patient and offer constructive advice – this helps you both feel confident and positive.
- Move on to driving in low traffic and good weather so handling the car feels more natural and the learner's confidence improves.
- When you are both ready, build up to longer trips in a variety of traffic conditions.
- Make practice sessions part of the normal routine – school, shopping, or visiting friends.
Skills to share with a learner driver
- Keep a safe distance behind the car in front. Research shows that rear-end crashes are common for younger drivers. Leave enough room between your car and the vehicle in front so there is time to deal with any unexpected events. This distance is at least two seconds between you and the vehicle in front – allow more in poor driving conditions.
- Watch out for other road users.
- Travel through complex intersections.
- Choose the right speed for the conditions.
- Merge onto freeways and change lanes.
- Drive in all conditions – night, city, rural and rain.
How to supervise your learner driver
- Be positive.
- Don't practice if you a tired or feeling stressed.
- If you do get frustrated, stop the car safely and calm down.
- Remember that we all make mistakes.
- Plan ahead. Plan driving routes that match the learner's ability. Don't try too much too soon.
- Talk to a professional driving instructor about the progress of the learner to assess what the next steps should be.
- Sit in on a lesson with a professional driving instructor to get a feel for the skill level of your learner, and how the driver trainer manages different driving situations.
Remember – A learner driver is much safer gaining experience with you than when out on the roads solo as a probationary driver. The more time you give for practice, the safer the learner will be during that crucial probationary licence stage when they are driving on their own.