5 Critical Things to Keep Your New Driver Safe

Picture of Nancy Lustenberger
Nancy Lustenberger

There’s one constant question that I receive from parents after we complete the 6 hours behind the wheel driver training for NJ permit drivers:

What should we concentrate on to make sure our son/daughter stays safe?

Of course this is a question that’s asked!  It’s completely understandable since parents aren’t given the chapter called “How to Teach Your Teen to Drive” in the Parenting Guide book you receive when you give birth!

But seriously – 6 hours is only the beginning of a life-long journey to become a safe, confident and defensive driver.  And like anything else – it starts with the basics and a good, solid foundation – just like building a house.  It’s crucial to have the basics down to ensure proper and safe driving.

Here are my 5 behind the wheel strategies to keep new drivers safe when they are just starting out:

1. Reach for your pedals and keep your chin above the wheel

Many drivers fail to position themselves correctly in their cars. This can cause serious discomfort while driving and even prevent the ability to control the car properly and effectively. On the flip side, a well-adjusted seat can dramatically improve your ability to drive more safely, prevent crashes, and stay comfortable during your drive.

A sure-fire way to ensure proper positioning is to use FNL Driving School’s simple check – reach for your pedals and keep your chin above the wheel. With your back comfortably rested against the backrest, you must be able to easily reach behind the brake pedal and touch the wall. Also, while being able to reach the pedals comfortably, your chin should also clear the top of the steering wheel/dashboard. Take your time adjusting the seat and familiarizing yourself with the controls of your seat, whether automatic or manual. These few minutes are worth it – I promise!

2. One Hand is Better than Two (when it comes to mirrors!)

Once you have your seat right where you want it, your next step is to get the mirrors properly adjusted. THIS IS CRITICAL!   A properly adjusted mirror will help you reduce blind spots, and give you the most visibility.

Do not use both hands when adjusting your rear view mirror. Use your right hand when moving the mirror to your desired position, because if you use both hands you will be forced to lift your back from the seat and your view will be off when you are seated correctly!

3. Set It and Forget It

There was a television commercial on for many years by a man named Ron Pompeil, who was selling a special rotisserie oven.  You’d do all of your prep before you turn it on to be sure that everything was ready.  Then you would “Set It and Forget It!”  This slogan was known all over the world – and parents you probably all remember it!

Well, ironically, it is a sound strategy for both cooking rotisserie style and for driving! Before going on your next drive, set the air conditioning temperature and your radio before your get going.  Set it and forget it!

As many people will attest, fidgeting with your car’s electronics is a huge distraction and immediately puts you at a higher risk of getting into a bad situation. The less time you’re worrying about what’s going on inside the car, the more time you can spend concentrating on what’s happening outside. Any time spent looking away from the road is time you’re putting yourself, your passengers and others at risk. So just remember to Set It and Forget It when it comes to temperature, music and in-car electronics of any kind!

Pro-tip: leave with ample time so you are not rushed making your pre-drive adjustments.

4. Gear, steer, check and go

Follow these steps when stating your drive: Gear, steer, check and go. Make sure you are in gear, steer the way you want to go, check your blind spots, and then go. These steps are crucial and you should not skip or avoid the process. Practice saying it out loud every time you pull out of your garage and parking spot until it becomes a habit and eventually second nature.

5. It’s not WATCH OUT! It is release and cover.

Shouting things like: “BRAKE” “SLOW DOWN” “WATCH OUT” “OH MY GOD” or many others can alarm anybody when driving, especially a new driver. It’s important to stay calm and in control, so FNL Driving School uses a different approach.

When wanting your new driver to brake, ask them to “release the gas”, and “cover the brake”. Using these verbal “cues” can put you and your driver at ease and result in a much better driving experience.

Also, always remember to be a good passenger and set the example. Eliminate all of your distractions as a passenger, such as talking on the phone and checking emails, so you can dedicate the proper (an appropriate) attention to coaching and guiding your new driver.

So there you have it. Follow my 5 proven strategies for keeping a new driver safe and you’ll be on your way to stress-free and safe driving.

If you’re interested in learning more about helpful driving tips, or have any questions, you can find out more information by clicking here, or please call me at (201) 599-1513 or email me at fnl@fnldrivingschool.com. Wed love to hear from you.


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