Need your au pair to drive? How to interview and plan for success

Driving can be subjective and there is always a bit of an unknown until the au pair is behind the wheel of an American car on our busy roads.  Many times the au pair will be driving a much bigger car in the US than they are used to at home and our roads (and signs!) are much different. You might want to think about paying for a few hours of a driving instructor in the first few weeks to help them acclimate.

When looking for drivers, keep the following in mind:

  • Where has the au pair been driving?  An au pair that has had her license for 4 years but drives in a small town may be a weaker driver than an au pair that has had her license for a year but driven in a big city.
  • Typically northern European drivers are quite strong (but not always!).  The requirements to obtain a license in places such as the Nordic countries, Germany, Austria and Switzerland are more rigorous than here in the US.  In some cases, they are required to take a defensive driving test (behind the wheel).
  • Asian au pairs are not typically known as great drivers but many can get there with practice. I would look for an au pair that has had her license for 2+ years and drives her own car 4+/week to start with

Please remember that adjusting to driving in the US is one of the most difficult transitions an au pair makes in her first few weeks.  Interviewing well regarding this issue and being patient after arrival will help everyone have a positive experience relating to this important task. During the interview process, I recommend you send your state DMV site with instructions about what is required to get a state license.

Questions for Host Families to ask:

  • What is your driving license number?
  • When did you receive your license?
  • Do you own a car?
  • Does your family own a car?
  • In whose car did you practice for your DL exam?
  • When did you start practicing for your DL exam?
  • When does your driving license expire?
  • Have you ever driven alone in a car? How often do you do this?
  • Have you driven with friends?
  • Do your mother and/or father have driving licenses?
  • Do your siblings (if any) have driving licenses?
  • Have you looked at the X State Driving license website that I sent you?
  • Do you understand the kind of questions that will be on the written test?
  • What kind of cars have you driven?
  • Have you ever driven a “minivan” or “van” or “SUV” type of car?
  • Do you usually drive an automatic transmission or manual transmission?
  • Have you ever driven a manual transmission (“Stick shift”) car?
  • What is the furthest distance you have ever driven?
  • What are the usual speed limits on the roads you drive on?
  • What kind of bad weather have you driven in? (snow? heavy rain?)
  • Have you ever driven on icy roads?
  • Have you ever used a GPS navigation system?
  • At home, when you need to figure out how to drive somewhere, how do you get directions?
  • Have you ever gotten lost while driving? If so, what did you do?
  • Have you ever been on a road trip (a driving trip to someplace far away) with a friend?
  • Have you driven at night?
  • How often do you drive at night?
  • In your experience, how is driving at nighttime different from driving during the daytime?
  • Have you ever driven with children in the car?
  • Is it typical, or the law, in your country to use seatbelts?
  • How often do you wear a seatbelt when driving?
  • Do passengers in your car wear seatbelts?
  • What do you do if a passenger in your car does not want to wear a seatbelt?
  • Is it typical in your country/town to use “car seats” (baby and child restraint seats) for children?
  • Have you ever put a child in a car seat?
  • What would you do if you were driving with a child and the child unbuckled its seatbelt or got out of the child car seat?
  • Is it illegal in your country to drink alcohol and drive a car?

Thursday, 6 July 2017 3:54 PM


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