10 Tips for Teaching Your Kids to Drive in Sydney

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With heavy traffic, narrow streets and aggressive drivers, learning to drive in a big city can be a highly intimidating prospect.

Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to help make this tricky parental task a little easier on you and your child. It’s worth giving plenty of forethought to this major time in your child’s life.  We’ve assembled 10 top tips for teaching your child to drive in Northern Sydney and other similarly urban areas.


Choose the right car

Unless you’re planning to gift your child a car to celebrate them passing their Ls test, this is one step you will need to start thinking about several years out from your child learning to drive.

Smaller cars are generally a good option for learning to drive in urban areas. They are easier to drive in narrow streets and make parking far easier.

Other things to look for in the ideal learning car are:

  • Good visibility: Give your child all the help they can get with large windows and a rearview camera if possible.
  • Power steering: Power steering is another major help for young drivers.
  • Automatic transmission: We know we can’t settle the manual vs automatic debate here, but if you’re looking to make life easier on your learner, auto is the way to go.


Start in quiet areas

While it might feel impossible to find, it’s important to start off your child’s driving journey in quieter areas. This might mean travelling to a more low-key suburb or an industrial area. Time of day is also important – you don’t want to start your child driving during school zone times or peak hour traffic.


Choose the right insurance

Look into your insurance policy and ensure your child is protected on their L-plates and their P-plates. For maximum certainty, contact your insurer.

It’s also important to start thinking about what insurance your child might use as they progress to their full licence. For example, you can help your child stay protected with insurance as a young driver with an insurance policy that doesn’t charge extra premiums to young drivers.


Practice parallel parking

Parallel parking is an unavoidable part of city driving. For the process of learning to parallel park, it’s important to start in an empty car park without cars. You can represent cars with cones or something similar.

Be sure to allow your child to progress on their parallel parking journey at a manageable rate. This will help to ensure they have all the confidence they need to pass their test and be a successful driver.


Manage hill starts

Northern Sydney is known for having some of the hillier roads in the city. As such, it’s important to remember the importance of hill starts, whether your child is learning in a manual or automatic vehicle.

First, find quieter areas to teach your child. Manage their progression appropriately. If they are learning in a manual vehicle, teach them to remain calm in the face of stalling – and potentially angry drivers behind them.


Stay calm in traffic

When teaching your child to remain calm in high-traffic areas, go a bit deeper than simply instructing them to “stay calm”. In fact, if delivered in the wrong tone, these words can have the totally opposite effect to what is intended.

Teach them to take deep breaths and focus on the present moment. Keep music to a minimum and be sure to instil in them that pulling over safely is always an option. It’s also crucial to ensure your child has had a great night’s sleep before you head out for a practice drive. 


Navigate tricky intersections

Any Northern Sydney resident has a shortlist of intersections they don’t look forward to driving on. When getting your child ready to drive on potentially intimidating intersections, preparation is key.

If you know you’ll be driving on a particular intersection, have your child study it before you head onto it. Ensure they understand traffic light patterns and the importance of respecting right of way.


Watch for pedestrians and cyclists

Northern Sydney is teeming with pedestrians and cyclists. Teach your child to scan for potential hazards. Ensure they drive on higher alert in high-risk areas such as near primary schools.

Your child should understand that cyclists have just as much right to the road as them and to not be frustrated with them. Ensure they always wait for safe opportunities to pass them.


Anticipate aggressive drivers

Let’s face it, Sydney can be full of some angry drivers. When someone is driving extremely close behind you or honking repeatedly, it’s all too easy for fully-licensed drivers to become flustered, let alone learners.

It’s key to balance the idea that your teen should not be motivated to drive in particular ways – such as speeding – because of the behaviour of angry drivers. It’s generally a great idea to simply ignore the behaviour of these drivers. 

However, it’s equally important that your teen knows that there are potentially dangerous individuals on the road. They may become incensed if your child doesn’t follow the behaviours they expect. Have an open and honest conversation with your child about the potential of such encounters and how to protect themselves.


Reward progress

Learning to drive in a major urban area can feel unrewarding. It’s important for you to recognise your child’s progress and reward them as such. Your approval means the world to your child, and it can be a major motivator on their driving journey.

With these tips in mind, you can prepare your child to drive in Northern Sydney safely and with a positive mindset.