Hearing “can you teach me to drive..?” and “I’m going for my licence” can sure evoke both fear and excitement in every parent’s mind when their teen expresses a desire to learn to drive.

Sure there are the professional driving schools with the skills to ease any new learner into the way to handle a vehicle and confidently take to the open road.  But what parent would not be able to resist the desire to teach their own son or daughter with a view to saving on the costs of a professional instructor, as well as clocking up the necessary kilometres?

But balanced with this are the costs to the frayed parent’s nerves coupled with the poor teen, keen to impress but not wanting to hear any criticism on their driving skills. This is far beyond “Have you done your homework?” or “Clean your room”. Flashbacks come to the parent’s mind of their own first lessons with their parents a generation before, with the frustration of being told what not to do.

And that first lesson can be so special, although unlike that first baby walk, can be a baptism of fire. You have a young first-time driver behind the wheel of this all too powerful machine capable of going over 150km per hour, and you want to put them on the open road…?

Your eyes are doing a constant 360 degree scan for other cars, people and stray dogs as the young driver sets off quickly getting to 30-40kmh. “Watch that parked car… keep to the kerb… don’t go too fast/slow” are standard parent quips whilst also trying to reassure they’re going just fine. “YESSS Dad/Mum” is the exasperated reply of the teen as they manoeuvre the car confidently along the road.  In fact, the statistical chances of any mishap are actually low whilst learning to drive.

Learning in a manual car is a whole different experience, with the added benefit of getting to understand the uniqueness of clutch control. This is something the long time driver takes for granted and is difficult to explain easily. The initial stalled starts can be a dampener for any young, aspiring learner. The added bonus is that once mastered, they have a better understanding of how a car operates and the ability of being able to buy (or get a car loan) to drive either an automatic or manual vehicle.

But where to drive?  Industrial estates, schools and shopping centre car parks are good spots to learn quietly without the chance of much traffic if at a weekend. Although with the advent of seven day trading the chances of not finding another vehicle on the road are getting limited.

And if you’ve been worried about teaching a 16-18 year old to drive, what must it have been like for the parents of Paige Wheeler?  At just 12 years this youngster from Wellingborough in the UK took out top honours in the junior European Drag Racing Championships zooming from 0-60mph in five seconds.

Now that takes some confidence.

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/daviddmuir/2551635273/