Learning to Drive: Top Tips for Teens

Learning to Drive

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By Leigh M.

The minimum age for learning to drive in the USA is 16 in many states, though in some states you need to be as old as 18. In others (think Alaska, Arkansas, Kansas, North and South Dakota, and Iowa) you can make a start when you are only 14. This enables you to have a big start on teens in other countries; in Europe, for instance, most countries require that you be an adult (18) to commence your adventures on the road. If you are of legal age and you are ready to get started, what steps do you need to follow to ensure you learn to drive safely and hone key skills that will stand you in good stead for a lifetime?

Obtaining a Learner’s Permit

Before starting with the physical side of driving, you will need to obtain a learner’s permit. In order to do so, you will need to pass a theory test and subsequently bring the Department of Motor Vehicles specific documentation (including proof of age, residence, and identification). Once you are given a learner’s permit you can begin your practical lessons.

What Car Should You Learn to Drive In?

If you are lucky enough to have the budget for a car and you will be learning to drive in it with the help of a family member or loved one, then it is important to see how your chosen car fares in reviews. The experience of other drivers will indicate features like the overall fuel economy and safety of any car you may be interested in, as well as aspects such as voice assistance, ease of parking, the presence or absence of antilock braking systems, and comfort. Ideally, you should choose a car with high safety ratings, as it will be the first car you will spend a significant amount of time in.

Should You Receive Lessons from a Licensed Instructor?

Often it is a parent who takes the role of driving instructor but, if your budget permits it, you might want to consider enrolling in a licensed, state-approved driving school. Being taught by a parent or friend has the major benefit of being free, meaning you can probably get a few more hours of practice prior to your driving test. However, it can also be a little stressful and drivers who are not licensed professionals can have bad habits you can adopt.

For instance, they may not know the correct way to make a U-turn or negotiate a roundabout. A driving instructor is also likely to be calmer and to keep the subject matter to driving. Finally, signing up for driving school is a commitment you will feel obliged to keep. On the other hand, a parent or loved one may be an excellent driver with plenty of patience. You may already be used to learning other subjects from them during your homeschooling journey and you may deem them ideal to teach you how to drive.

Getting Ready for the Test

Your driving test will determine whether or not you are ready to be an independent driver nut if you don’t get it right on the first try, don’t fret. Only 56% of people surveyed by CarInsurance obtained the 80% score required to pass. Women fared better than men, obtaining an average score of 78% (vs 71% for men) on their first attempt. Ultimately, it pays to see the driving test as a simple opportunity to show how much you have learned. There is no limit to the number of times you can take the test, which thankfully only costs between $10 and $30 (depending on the state you live in).

If you are turning 14, 16, or 18, and your state laws indicate you are permitted to learn to drive, you may be excited and not know where to start. The first step is to study for and pass a theoretical test. Next, you will need practical lessons so you can ace your test. Invest time and undertake research into aspects such as the type of car you wish to buy in the future, the best school or teacher to opt for, and the like. Once you are ready to take to the wheel, focus on picking up key skills that will keep you, your passengers, pedestrians, and other drivers safe and sound.

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