Lesson 4: Your Teen’s Pre-Drive Checklist

When your teen drives alone, he or she should continue with the safety habits you have practiced. Distractions and unexpected hazards can increase your teen’s crash risks, but some simple planning can go a long way toward keeping him or her safe. Review these questions with your teen so they become a habit on every drive.

Where Are You Going?

This might seem obvious, but the more your teen drives to familiar destinations, the easier it is to “zone out” while behind the wheel. Encouraging your teen to consider the destination before driving will make him or her think about the route and any potential hazards on the way. Maybe there’s an intersection your teen always has trouble with or it’s going to rain during the drive; whatever the hazards might be, thinking them through gives your teen a better chance of avoiding them.

What Do You Need to Do to Arrive Safely?

This seems like another easy one, yet most drivers have trouble with it. To arrive safely, all your teen really has to do is focus on the road, actively scan for hazards, and react appropriately to the conditions. Texts and calls are completely unnecessary, as are any sort of impairing substance or behaviors. Use this opportunity to reinforce the dangers of these habits to your teen, and plan accordingly. If your teen is expecting a particular call or text during the drive, teach him or her to plan on pulling over safely at some point to address it, or to answer it after arriving rather than trying to handle it in the moment.  

Practice: Your teen should still be filling you in on the details of solo drives, so review these questions before he or she leaves. Ask your teen about the destination, the route, and how he or she plans to get there safely. Do this before every trip to reinforce it with your teen and make it something he or she always thinks about before shifting into drive.


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