How to Use the Teen Driving Experience Log Book

One of the Graduated Driver Licensing requirements for a Florida Operator’s License is that the holder of the Learner’s License must have a parent or guardian certify that the driver has had at least 50 hours of experience behind the wheel, ten hours of which must have been at night.

Many parents sign the affidavit without much thought, knowing that they must have accumulated at least 50 hours while teaching their teen to drive. But it’s important to maximize the training quality of these hours. The best way to do this is with a Teen Driving Experience Log Book.

The Driving Experience log helps both the parent and the teen driver ensure that the teen is trained on a wide range of driving skills in a variety of conditions. Here are the components of the log and how to use them:

  • Date: Try to space driving lessons two to three days apart. This gives the teen driver enough -time to process the lesson without causing learning fatigue. Try not to let too much time go by between lessons (for example, letting your teen practice driving only on weekends).
  • Vehicle: Try to conduct driving lessons in at least two different vehicles, even if your teen will only be using one of the family cars after being licensed. Teen drivers need to understand the differences between accelerating, steering, and braking different vehicles.

Teach your teen to spend a few minutes getting familiar with the location of the gearshift, headlights, defroster, windshield wipers, and gauges when you conduct training in a new vehicle.

  • Route: Resist the temptation to allow your teen to practice driving only on familiar routes close to home (for example, to and from the nearest grocery store). While it is important to conduct training in these areas, your teen will likely be driving farther from home soon after being licensed. Expand routes to include challenging roads, such as expressways, as your teen gains experience and skill.
  • Practiced: Just as with routes, new drivers should practice a variety of maneuvers. For example, teens should practice parallel parking on downtown streets as well as straight-in parking in shopping center parking lots. They need to learn how to make three-point turns, how to drive in a roundabout, and how to pull safely off the road if the vehicle overheats. Parents who are having trouble creating diverse lesson plans should consult a resource such as the National Safety Commission’s Driver Education Handbook for Parents.
  • Weather: Parents may be hesitant to ride with an inexperienced driver on slippery roads, but new drivers will eventually have to contend with driving in inclement weather conditions. They should get this experience while a parent is still present to provide guidance. Most teens are not capable of comprehending the risks of reduced visibility and hydroplaning on their own.
  • Remarks: This is a good place to make note of routes and maneuvers with which the teen driver needs additional practice. Staggering lessons so the teen is not practicing the same complicated concepts in consecutive sessions will reduce frustration for both parties.
  • Prep Time: Teach your teen driver to conduct a pre-trip inspection of the vehicle. Record this time and lecture time (keep lectures short to compensate for teens’ short attention spans) here.
  • Actual Driving Time: End each training session when you sense that you and/or your teen are approaching fatigue, but try to end each lesson on a positive note. If your teen struggles during a lesson, spend the final few minutes practicing a technique she or he already does well.
  • Day Driving Time; Night Driving Time: The 50 hours of driving experience including ten hours at night required by the GDL law is a minimum. You are the best judge of how much training your teen needs to be a safe driver.
  • Debrief Time: Calmly discuss your teen’s progress. Be sure to allow your teen to give feedback. Reassure your teen that you will continue practicing difficult maneuvers and offer praise for her or his successes.

Teaching their teen to drive is a stressful, emotional experience for many parents, but making training time count is one of the most important things you will ever do for your child.