What Teen Drivers Need To Know When Starting Out

5 Mins read

The learning curve for learning to drive is steep for your teen. We have put together a checklist that your teenage kid should go through before they get behind the wheels.

Driving puts the lives of your child and that of others at risk. The more knowledge they equip themselves with the better. It will boost their confidence so they will be more comfortable in the car.

In addition to this checklist, you should also look into insurance programs for teen driving. It’s a good precaution that paves the way for responsible driving. 

Go Over The Rules Yourself

Driving rules evolve with time. The rules you grew up learning are different from today’s rules. For example, you likely never learned about texting and driving rules as a teenager yourself; however, it is critical for your teenager to learn. The rules are going to change further in the future as well as introduce new elements to driving. So, it’s a very good idea for you as the parent to go through the current rules.

If you are a busy person and it’s hard for you to guide your teen, hire a good instructor. The best driving lessons are interactive whether theoretical or practical.

Tour The Anatomy of The Vehicle

The vehicle’s anatomy is easy to learn. Before that, teach your teen how to adjust the vehicle to match their physical build. 

This means, your kid has to adjust the seat to give perfect leg space. Also, the rearview and side mirrors need to be in the right place. You can also show your child how to tilt the steering wheel for comfort.

A vehicle has controls and features that all drivers need to know. So teach your child what each of them does.

Here is a checklist of items that need to be at the back of the head at all times.

  • Starting the engine and turning it off
  • All the controls on the dashboard
  • What each warning indicator lights represent such as temperature, oil, and low fuel.
  • The gas pedal, brakes, and the antilock braking system
  • The emergency flashers
  • The airbags and seat belts for safety
  • Headlight controls
  • The Turning signals
  • The parking brakes and release
  • Steering wheel adjustment
  • The Manual mirror adjustment or mirror adjustment switch
  • Window wipers
  • The seat adjustment lever

Other than all that is on this list, your teen should know the compartments. Safekeeping of the insurance card, registration, and the manual is also very important.

The Teenagers First Time in The Vehicle

Your Teenager’s first time behind the wheel is risky but inevitable. Be there when it happens or get someone responsible to do so.

Avoid roads and streets or active locations for the first drive. Instead, take him or her to an empty parking lot or an open field.

Let your teen get a feel of the gas and brakes. When that’s in the bag, guide your child to drive straight, reverse driving, and making turns.

It might take some time for some kids to get the basics right. When they get fluent at the basics, graduate to more complex skills. Pulling in and out of a parking spot can be the next exercise. It might take more than a few times to master.

These tests give your teen an idea of how much pressure gets the vehicle from point A to B. Also, they will know how much to turn the wheel to.

These exercises will not only help your teenager get comfortable with the vehicle, but also the external surroundings. They need to focus on the road straight ahead and on both sides. So, remind your kid to check the mirrors and scan for mishaps. 

Traffic isn’t going to mold around your child’s vehicle. For this reason, teach them to keep a safe distance from the car that is ahead. The farther the separation the more time it gives your kid to react to sudden moves.

With Safety in Mind, Hit The Road!

Now that the basics are clear you can take your kid to a low-speed limit road. The best time to do so is when the traffic is low. 

Here, your child will learn how to stay in the same lane and react to vehicles that are exiting driveways. Also, he will have a chance to abide by road signs like u-turn and stop signs.

Eventually, your kid will have to do all these without guidance. Whether at high speeds, in heavy traffic, or in bad weather, your kid cannot give up. On top of that, they might be unaware of pedestrians. Take it slow but do not neglect the eventuality.

Things Beginners Can Practice

The following are things that your child has to master in time. To speed things up is to let them practice these on different routes.

  • Driving near small children like school zones
  • Smoothly come to a halt
  • Steady acceleration
  • Driving alongside cyclists, school buses, and pedestrians
  • Merging into traffic in a safe manner
  • How to approach an intersection
  • Yielding the right of way
  • Moving from one lane to another
  • Driving on single-lane roads
  • Driving on multi-lane roads
  • Keeping the speed steady
  • Acclimating to turning lanes
  • Using the right signals to turn fast

There will be some skills that fall behind while others shine. Pay attention to this and nurture the weak points for them to improve. 

Different conditions like time of day, weather, and traffic are better teachers than you are. If you expose your kid to more of it, then they will get more comfortable behind the wheel and reduce their fears..

Long drives with supervision will further your child’s skills. If you are not available or don’t feel confident doing it yourself, get a driving instructor.

Highway Drives

Highways offer more traffic, multi lanes and more scope to learn all the above but at a higher intensity.

Start this exercise when things are quiet. I graduate to rush hours when the time is right. Merging, spacing, lane discipline, and high speeds are only some of the obstacles.

High speeds mean distant stops. Get your kid to master blind stops for changing lanes. He will have to drive close to big trucks and anticipate interchanges just reading signs.

Safety space is hard to come by on highways if you are new. That has to change as you have to pull off the road. There might be debris or slowing cars in front of you.

Intermediate Skills

These skills are at severe traffic and speed will shape an amateur into a professional

  • Acting right while passing or during overtaking
  • Distancing from other vehicles
  • Acting upon exits and road signs
  • Merging at the heights of traffic
  • Going at the right speeds as necessary
  • Good manners towards other drivers
  • Understanding toll booth procedures

The Final Battle

After mastering the intermediate tasks, your teenager will have learned how to drive well when everything is going right. Now it’s time to teach him how to deal with extreme hazards. 

Pick the worst days, nights, weather conditions, and treacherous paths and see how they respond. Of course, you have to be there next to them. Legally, your company is mandatory.

Like the prior levels, nurture the weakest skills. This is a good time to educate them about defroster, bright headlight, and fog lights.

Show Time

Legally a teen can drive alone with a license. But as a parent, it’s your call. Before you let him drive, cross out all these points. This is your checklist as a parent.

  • Do they have enough practice in the worst conditions?
  • Are they noticing and reacting to hazardous situations quickly? Is it a habit yet?
  • Are they following safety rules by themselves, like asking all to fasten seatbelts?
  • Do they have any risky driving behavior like talking on the phone or texting? How about speeding or angry driving? And if aggravated, does he pull over?
  • Can they pull over patiently to deal with distractions? Can they do that without your supervision?
  • Does your teen have any bad habits that driving may enable?
  • Does he follow your rules and conditions regarding safe and responsible driving?

If your teen has not met his checklists and neither have you, it’s ok.  Now is just not the time to get a license. However, sooner or later, the day for them to be ready will come. So your teen must practice, practice, practice!

Safe driving has to turn into a life-long habit, and with the proper training, your teen will get the hang of it quickly.  Safe travels!