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I'm looking for suggestions of things I can teach my soon-to-be student driver that are not covered in a typical driver's ed program. The goals are:

o Prepare him for real world driving much more comprehensively than the class
o Begin the process of learning car control
o Create an automotive enthusiast

We have had a couple of parking lot lessons so far. They have gone exceptionally well, and have been a great bonding experience. He has grasped the basic control feel and responses, and he can get in and out of a parking space nose first and tail first. He can change a tire, after encountering a drill bit on the ground. He is learning the vision scan pattern and pace, and the difference between looking and seeing. Of course he really enjoys hard acceleration. He knows what ABS feels like and what it does. He is becoming aware of minimum stopping distances. I can't teach him slide recovery or cornering limits in my car because my new Sport Cup 2 tires have such stupendous grip that I haven't even reached their limit yet.

What else should I be teaching him?

Neil
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You're asking us?
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What else should I be teaching him?

I went through this recently with DD. Admittedly she was never going to be a car enthusiast. So we focused on how to operate a motor vehicle safely. I had three iron-clad rules for her behind the wheel:

1. It's not a race; you win when you get there safely.
2. Never surprise the other drivers.
3. Judgment trumps skill.

Rule #1 was primarily to encourage her to let aggressive drivers pass her.

Rule #2 rolls up all the times you break a small rule to avoid an accident, i.e. don't panic-stop because the light turned yellow. Don't make suicide three-lane lane changes because you're going to miss your exit.

Rule #3 covers the cases where you "nope" out of a bad situation, including the weather is too bad to drive safely. She also had a bad habit of missing turns when navigating. Rule #3 says don't make a heroic effort to catch that turn late; go on, U-turn, and come back.

Also, not so much a rule as an observation, I pointed out to her that cars have body language and you can frequently predict what a driver will do by how the car is behaving. There are "creepers" that want to pull out in front of you, there are "drifters" who want to change lanes, etc.

Regards,

- HCF
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Great questions! Check and see if you have a local Street Survival course near you: http://www.streetsurvival.org/. Some friends of mine have taught at them before, and report amazing results! Reactive turns (driving towards a cone with the instructor saying "left" or "right" at the last minute) and the skid pad exercises were pretty eye-opening to new teenage drivers to see how their vehicles handle at the limits.

After that (or in lieu of, if nothing is local to you) I highly suggest you search out your local SCCA club's autocross events: https://www.scca.com/pages/find-your-fun. They are safe, fun, and very welcoming to newbies!
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2. Never surprise the other drivers.
...
Also, not so much a rule as an observation, I pointed out to her that cars have body language and you can frequently predict what a driver will do by how the car is behaving. There are "creepers" that want to pull out in front of you, there are "drifters" who want to change lanes, etc.


I've said this before, but I'd prefer to be around an aggressive driver than a distracted driver any day of the week. Because I can usually predict what the aggressive driver is going to do. It's the distracted/inattentive ones that will surprise you.


Aside from that, I'll share the best piece of advice my father gave me in learning to drive. If you can't see around an obstacle (an overgrown bush at an intersection, a box truck in front of you, etc.) assume there's a car on the other side of it. Or a child chasing a ball into the street. That kind of thinking really forces you to approach the blind situation with an abundance of caution. You slow down, you cover the brake, etc.

Fireball, maybe send 'em to an open wheel racing school? ;)
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I've said this before, but I'd prefer to be around an aggressive driver than a distracted driver any day of the week. Because I can usually predict what the aggressive driver is going to do. It's the distracted/inattentive ones that will surprise you.

Yes!

There's also a category of "sleepers" who don't notice that the light changed. These people can be assumed to be distracted drivers. Apply rule #3 and give them wide berth.

Overall I enjoyed spending a lot of unstructured time with her discussing random car topics.

Regards,

- HCF
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Other important things to teach a new driver.

1) Parallel Parking:
Find a good sized parking lot that’s mostly empty. Take two plastic trash cans and place one of them a car width from the curb about 10 feet in front of your parked car and the other 10 feet behind your parked car. Have the student driver pull out of the “parking place” and then parallel park back into the place. When they can do it several times, move the trash cans closer together. Rinse and repeat until they are able to park in a space that is only about 4 feet longer than the car. Teach this on both sides of the car/ street.

2) How to get back onto the road if you accidentally drop a tire off the pavement... Hold the wheel steady and straight, then ease gently back onto the pavement. (NO Jerking of the wheel.) Practice this one a deserted road with no curbs at low speed.

Hope all goes well!
tb2
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Thanks for these suggestions. Keep them coming!

We will definitely be doing a street survival course and some autocrossing. There is a lot that I can teach him about competition driving, but I'm holding back most of that until after he has a license and a base of skills to work from.

Neil
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Keep your middle finger to yourself.
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Fireballs,

I trust that you can teach your son more car control than 99.9% of fathers can without needing our input. A tight, curvy track on a rainy day does wonders. Yokohama A048 tires that have been in use long after they've heat cycled out achieves almost the same results. Okay, not literally, but it sure feels that way at speed.

The kind of stuff you might need input on isn't related to that. So my idea submission is to teach him how stupid other drivers can be.

xtn
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Teach him how to set his mirrors so there are no blind spots.

When I get a rental I'm not familiar with, I'll back into a parking space between two cars, then pull forward until they're both in my blind spots, then set the mirrors so I can see them.

Also, after showing him where his blind spots are, teach him never to put his own car into anyone else's blind spot.

I own a low sports coupe and I make sure it can be seen by others always. Haven't got hit yet.

Rip
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Following up on this thread, we have a new driver in the family. He passed the driving test on the first try.

His style of driving now is slightly on the cautious side, which we are thrilled about. We don't expect that to last, but we are enjoying it while it does. He did a fair amount of the driving during a week-long family vacation recently, and he exercised excellent judgment the whole time.

When he has developed a high enough comfort level that he starts taking chances, we will do a street survival course and some autocross practice days.

Buying his first car has been delayed by the financial reality of major house repairs due to a washing machine hose disaster. Insurance is covering almost all of it, but of course we are taking the opportunity to upgrade flooring etc. during the reconstruction. Replace your hoses now, especially if your laundry room is upstairs.

Neil
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