Stage 1: Become a Smooth Operator
Location: Empty parking lot
Length of lesson: 20-25 minutes
The steering wheel, the gas pedal, and the accelerator pedal are your main controls. It’s imperative that your teen become a master of all three. These exercises will help them become a master of the pedals.
They are also intended to create muscle-memory in your teen’s feet. Unless your teen has been involved in a sport that requires fine control of their feet, they will have to put in the practice time with the pedals in order to become proficient.
Starting from a dead stop, have your teen coast across the parking lot in a straight line, as slowly as possible. The point here is to illustrate that the car will travel without constant pressure on the gas pedal.
Have your teen increase the speed to 10mph. You want them to maintain this speed as they travel across the lot. They will be learning how to apply varying amounts of pressure to the gas pedal in order to affect their speed.
As their competence increases, continue increasing the speed by 5mph. Obviously, don’t exceed the safe speed of the parking lot.
Once they can maintain a constant speed, challenge them to smoothly speed up and slow down to your command. Remember, they’re only using the accelerator in these lessons.
The Brake Pedal
Ask your teen come to a smooth stop from varying speeds. Pick points where you’d like them stop and have them begin braking at different distances. This will teach them to apply more or less force depending on the distance.
Again, you’re trying to create muscle memory and the only way to do this is through practice.
If their braking or accelerating is extremely jerky, double-check that their heel is firmly planted on the floor of the car. Some new drivers have a tendency to lift up their entire foot instead of pivoting.
Continue on to Turning