Parents give learners drivers wrong steer on basic driving best practice

Many parents give their children wrong advice and bad habits when teaching them to drive.

Many parents give their children wrong advice and bad habits when teaching them to drive. - Credit: supplied

One in two learner drivers (54%) are given tuition by their parents – yet many mums and dads show a worrying lack of knowledge of basic driving best practice, with one in five not even sure they'd pass their own test if they took it again.

The research was commissioned by Young Driver, the UK's largest provider of pre-17 driving tuition, following instructors working for the scheme revealing that one of their most dreaded phrases from the youngsters they taught was 'but my dad says...'

When questioned, 76% of parents believed they were up to date with the latest rules and could provide adequate instruction to their children on driving... but, when quizzed on certain facts, many revealed their advice to be wide of the mark.

More than 1,000 people were surveyed by Young Driver, which offers driving tuition to 10 to 17-year-olds at more than 40 venues across Great Britain.

Although only 27% of parents admitted they've picked up bad habits and forgotten what they were taught, it seems many more are still clinging to outdated advice to pass on to their own children.

Mirror, signal, manoeuvre – 39% of parents have forgotten this basic rule, despite it being the cornerstone of good driving. And 47% forget to teach their children about the importance of checking dangerous blind spots.

Hand position – despite many of us being taught that hands should be kept on the steering wheel at the '10 to two' position, that advice has been revised over recent years. It is now recommended that hands are in the 'quarter to three' position, to maintain control and to prevent a serious injury should a steering wheel airbag deploy. But 46% of parents admitted to insisting their youngsters used the original '10 and two' placement they'd been taught in the pre-airbag era.

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Steering – 82% of parents wouldn't teach the push-pull technique favoured by instructors.

Gear changes – 38% would insist the learner moved up and down the gears sequentially – first, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth – however, block gear changing is now considered acceptable in many situations.

Braking – 45% of parents would insist the handbrake was applied whenever the car stopped. However, the purpose of the 'parking brake' is to secure the car when it's stationary on a hill, or stopping on the flat for more than a few seconds. Stopping at a junction on the flat, the handbrake may not always be needed.

Manoeuvres – 19% would be adamant that a turn in the road was a failure unless it was completed in three manoeuvres. In fact, the modern test allows for up to five turns. Hence, it is no longer referred to as 'the three-point turn'.

Assisted technology – 24% would insist youngsters didn't use parking sensors or cruise control to help with their driving. These are perfectly acceptable in a test situation when used appropriately.

Dads are twice as likely as mum to take their offspring out for practise, with the majority offering additional experience time alongside professional tuition. Yet one in 10 youngsters rely purely on a family member for their driver education.

Kim Stanton, who heads up Young Driver, said: 'Our instructors have long despaired of the phrase 'my dad says...' just because it normally means a parent is contradicting what the professionals are trying to teach the learner!

'Because we teach under 17s, usually the youngsters haven't yet had any experience of being taught by a parent, but children are like sponges – they constantly want to absorb information, and once they've had a lesson with Young Driver, they often question their parents on driving techniques. But of course, the instructors are the experts, and know what the current best practice is, so we'd hope parents would swot up a bit before giving any dud advice! It might actually help their own driving skills too.'

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