Help! My teen wants to learn how to drive

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"A candidate must be 17-years-old to obtain his or her learner's license". (Getty Images)
"A candidate must be 17-years-old to obtain his or her learner's license". (Getty Images)
  • Becoming a driver is a huge milestone, and it can be challenging for a parent to accept that their teen is eligible as far as the law is concerned. 
  • But how to start the driving journey? 
  • A local expert shares her top tips, from choosing the right driving school to getting your teen ready for each lesson.

With the Covid-19 pandemic restricting much daily extramural activity, your teen might be bored with too much time on their hands. 

This might have prompted them into taking on a challenge that you might not think they're ready for: learning to drive. 

While parents might not see this as a good thing at first, after all, simulated driving on a PS5 or Xbox is nowhere close to the real thing, but redirecting some of that free time into doing something productive might be a good outlet. 

And by law, your teen is eligible to start their journey to becoming a motor car driver at 17-years-old. 

So, where to start? 

"A candidate must be 17-years-old to obtain his or her learner's licence. The learner can drive with this learner's licence under the supervision of a person who already has a driver's licence for the code that the candidate is practising. Once the candidate reaches 18 years, he or she can go for the driver's licence test," explains Elize Korf, Director of the He and She Driver Training Centre. 

Your first step, Korf advises, will be making an application for a learner's licence test, which can be done at your nearest traffic department. 

According to official instruction published on Gov.za, your teen must bring along the following documentation: 

  • An identity document (ID)
  • Two identical black-and-white ID photographs (before you have photographs taken, you should confirm with the driving licensing testing centre how many photos they require)
  • A booking fee (Contact your local licensing office for the cost) 
  • Proof of postal and residential address

Gov.za advises that residents from informal settlements "must bring a letter with an official date stamp from the ward councillor confirming your postal and residential address". 

As part of the application process, Korf says your teen will be required to pass "an eye test before an appointment to write the [learner's] test will be granted". 

Once your teen has passed this hurdle, driving lessons may begin. 

"The teen can start with driving lessons or driving with a person who already has a driver's licence for the code the learner is learning to drive," Korf says. 

Also read: For SA teens: a quick and easy guide to getting all your ID and other documents

Getting ready for lessons 

Getting ready for lessons entails both mental preparation and an empty bladder, Korf advises. 

To ensure your teen is ready, here's a quick preparation checklist according to Korf: 

  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes.  
  • Be mentally prepared for the lesson and do not rush to your appointment. 
  • Go to the toilet before starting the lesson (an hour is a long time)
  • Remember to take your learner's licence along whenever you are driving.

Choosing the right driving school

With the many driving schools providing lessons to learner drivers out there, you may be wondering how to decide which one will be best suited for your teen. 

Korf says there are a few basic things that the driving school must possess, starting with insured, roadworthy vehicles. 

Beyond this, Korf says positive referrals are worth their weight in gold, as well as the proper paperwork for an instructor. "The instructor must have an instructor certificate," she urges. 

Ensuring that the school is Covid-19 compliant is another element Korf advises parents to look out for; this includes vehicle sanitization before and after lessons. 

The sanitization process should include the "door handles, steering wheel, indicators, hooter, gear lever and safety belt". 

Explaining further, Korf says the school must require the use of face masks by both instructor and learner throughout the lesson, and the "learner instructor ratio [should be] 1 student per facilitator for practical driving," she says. 

Mental preparation  

While it's not the hardest thing in the world, learning to drive, especially for a teen, can be stressful, and Korf says starting with a calm and patient mind is vital. 

"Stay in your lane and maintain a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. Drive at the correct speed for the circumstances, not too fast or too slow," she says. 

Is your teen keen on learning to drive? 

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