One in two learner drivers are given tuition by their parents – yet many mums and dads show a worrying lack of knowledge of basic driving best practice.

The research was commissioned by Young Driver, the UK’s largest provider of pre-17 driving tuition.When questioned, 76% of parents said they 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.

  • Mirror, signal, manoeuvre – 39% of parents appear to have forgotten this basic rule, despite it being the cornerstone of good driving, and 47% forget to teach their children about checking dangerous blind spots.
  • Hand position – 46% admitted to insisting their youngsters keep their hands on the steering wheel in the ‘10 and 2’ position they’d been taught in the pre-airbag era.However, the ‘quarter to 3’ position is now recommended, to maintain control and prevent serious injury should a steering wheel airbag deploy.
  • Steering – 82% of parents wouldn’t teach the push-pull technique that is favoured by instructors.
  • Gear changes – 38% insist that learners move up and down the gears sequentially (eg, 1-2-3-4-5). However, block gear changing is now considered acceptable in many situations.
  • Braking – 45% insist the handbrake is applied whenever the car stops. However, the purpose of the ‘parking brake’ is to secure the car when it’s stationary on a hill, or when stopping on the flat for more than a few seconds. When stopping at a junction on the flat, for example, it may not always be needed.
  • Manoeuvres – 19% believe that a turn in the road is a failure unless it is completed in three manoeuvres. In fact, the modern test allows for up to five turns. Hence, it is no longer called the ‘three point turn’.
  • Assisted technology – 24% insist that youngsters don’t use parking sensors or cruise control to help with their driving. These are perfectly acceptable in a test situation when used appropriately.
“Our instructors have long despaired of the phrase ‘my dad says...’ because it normally means a parent is contradicting what they are trying to teach the learner,” said Kim Stanton, who heads up Young Driver.“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.”