Several things I always establish before handing over the keys to my 1500 kg steel cage on wheels.
NEVER DRIVEN. Let’s drive to a parking lot or a very calm no traffic area. Best safe than sorry to give the co-pilot time to see how much control the new driver has. And to provide the new driver time to gain control in a safe environment away from other road users.
STEERING WHEEL, PARKING BRAKE, NEUTRAL, & MY VOICE COMMANDS As a co-pilot you must hang on to as much control as you can, or as much as the new driver needs you to hang on to, giving them time to learn how to control the car. Please don’t assume they know how to drive when they don’t know. Best to prepare for their success with a safety blanket. So here are some safety ideas.
STEERING WHEEL. Reach over and hang onto the wheel with your left hand steering WITH the new driver’s hands, also on the wheel. Start this way and have the new driver agree to and be comfortable with you reaching over to co-steer at any time during the drive. Reaching underneath their arms, grabbing the bottom of the wheel firmly gives you the co-pilot a strong KEEP THE CAR STRAIGHT control when needed. Together play with this BOTH-STEER in a safe area several times to both be comfortable with it.
PARKING BRAKE. If there is a parking brake between the front chairs, use it to slow the driver down. Try it and go slow forward and pull firmly (keep the lock pin engaged) but steadily on the parking brake. You will see that it does slow the car and stop it in time. Also, have the new driver perform this stop so they learn what the parking brake does. This exercise also helps the new driver learn more about the car and realize when you are assisting. That’s good. You are a team.
NEUTRAL. PRNDL is built to slide into N-neutral and back to D-drive without even looking at the handle nor pressing the release button. Just push it, and it slides into neutral and will not go into R-reverse. It’s designed for an engine restart, so the car keeps moving to restart versus ramming it into P to restart. This N-Neutral shift cuts off the new drivers’ gas if needed. Again, practise it a few times so that the new driver understands it. Both of you should practise it. Both should know how it works in case of a restart engine stall, and also so the new driver doesn’t panic if you need to help with the control.
MY VOICE. The command words are brake brake brake brake, which means press on the brake and keeps pressing on it when you hear me repeating the word brake. Similarly, gas gas gas gas gas when I want you to press more on the gas. Again practise these commands several times and gain agreement between the two of you to work together here. You should also practise a COVER THE BREAK command – cover the brake, cover the brake so that when objects or turns are approaching, you want to ensure the new driver’s foot is on the brake resting on the brake or gently pressing on the brake. Brakes are far smarter than the foot over the gas!
Prepare and present all these teamwork safety ideas in a safe place LONG before you venture out.
The best solution, send them to a driving instructor. Yes, there are terrible stories about new drivers banging up the family cars with a good-intentioned family member. So the best idea is to have them start with an experienced trainer, in a properly insured dual control car. Traumatizing a new driver at the beginning of their driving career often has devastating long term effects. Additionally, banging up the driving school car can also put a dent in the new driver’s confidence. So dig a little deeper than normal to locate a quality trainer. They are out there but typically they are busy and harder to find.
Driving is an essential lifelong skill. It’s not worth any increased risk at the beginning. And please take note of the poor instructors out there. Yes, there are some.
Do everything possible to ensure a safe journey for your new driver.
I Have Evolved
They Can Evolve.