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Safe Driving Checklist for Teens

With so much for new drivers to concentrate on, wouldn’t it be nice to have a safe driving checklist for teens?

I mean, how exciting is it now that your teen can drive? No more mom taxi anymore! Oh, wait, but it can also be terrifying to think of your new teenage driver out on the roads, too. Thousands of ‘what ifs’ flood your mind…

You might immediately think of your teen’s safety and of other people involved. Shortly thereafter, your next thoughts could be of potential vehicle damage or auto insurance coverage.

To help you out, we’ve compiled a Safe Driving Checklist for Teens so you’ll have something to reference in this potentially exciting, yet stressful time. Print this checklist out in advance and have it handy for your teenage driver to follow for a safer driving experience.

Identify all the Controls on Your Car

Most controls are pretty standard on cars, like turning on lights, signals, wipers, etc., but it helps to know where things are before you start driving. Be sure to locate the following controls on your car first:

  1. Emergency flashers
  2. Emergency brakes
  3. Wipers (front and rear, if applicable)
  4. Operation of wiper fluid
  5. Headlights
  6. Defroster
  7. Climate controls and vent direction
  8. Turn signals
  9. Radio

Now I know that #9 ‘Radio’ might seem out of place, but a lot of accidents are caused by new drivers fiddling with the radio. New teens are very dependent on their music and it’s just part of the experience. Make sure music isn’t too loud or distracting, though.

Preparing to Drive

The next steps are critical for your teen’s safety while driving a car. Many drivers fail to make these adjustments before they drive away, then cause accidents trying to do them during transit:

  1. Adjust seat distance from wheel, height, and tilt angle
  2. Adjust mirrors to reduce blind spots
  3. Adjust seat belt height and tension
  4. Familiarize yourself with gears and shifting
  5. Visually check tires and car exterior, including hood and trunk
  6. Put cell phones or other devices away so they don’t distract you

I’ve found often to be the case that people confuse the trunk or gas tank door lever for the hood or vice versa. There is a safety catch for most hoods to prevent accidental opening during car operation, but let’s not risk it, hmm?

Teenage Driving

There are many tips and tricks on how to help your teen drive safely and correctly, but we’re just focusing on the checklist of things to watch out for:

  1. Car should be in Park for automatics or Neutral for manual transmissions
  2. Foot on brake pedal
  3. Turn key in ignition until car starts
  4. Shift into gear for desired direction
  5. Check to make sure path is clear, including blind spots
  6. Signal, if necessary
  7. Gently press gas pedal
  8. Keep both hands on the wheel–don’t eat, do make-up, or perform other distracting activities while driving
  9. Drive safely!

Ok, well there are many more things to watch out for when driving, but here is a further checklist for teens to help with safe driving:

  1. Visually check for blind spots when turning or changing lanes vs just relying on mirrors
  2. Keep both hands on the steering wheel
  3. Allow for enough space between you and the car in front of you
  4. Plan ahead for signaling, changing lanes, and breaking
  5. Pay attention to traffic around you to anticipate their mistakes, balls in the road, motorcycles, cyclists, etc.
  6. Notice all signs, including speed limits, crosswalks, and construction zones
  7. Always look behind you when reversing
  8. Adjust speed to road conditions and weather
  9. Be extra alert at intersections and watch for cars or pedestrians running red lights
  10. Rehearse emergency procedures and what to do after an accident

This Safe Driving Checklist for Teens doesn’t cover everything, but it should help you and your teen feel more confident in their chances for driving success. It’s also a great idea to review your auto insurance policy with your independent insurance agent and your teen so they know exactly what to do after an accident and understand how important safe driving is. Review costs and consequences.

Above all else, breathe and stay calm. You were in your teen’s shoes once, too! Good luck!