Lesson 3: Your Teen’s Pre-Drive Checklist

Once your teen gets some experience driving, it’s easy to fall into a routine of getting in the car, starting the engine and driving away without thinking. Unfortunately, this can cause your teen to miss unexpected hazards, or take his or her safety behind the wheel for granted. To help your teen focus, here are some simple items to check before every drive.

Everyday Items to Check

Once your teen gets into a vehicle, he or she should buckle up and check to make sure all passengers do the same (though you should be the only passenger for at least a year). Your teen should then adjust the driver’s seat and check all of the vehicle’s mirrors to be sure he or she has a clear view in each one. Next, have your teen check the dashboard to see how much gas is in the tank, and see if there are any alerts, like a check engine light or tire pressure warning. All alerts should be remedied as soon as possible to keep the vehicle in safe, working condition. Finally, have your teen make adjustments like turning on the headlights, heat or air conditioning, and limiting distractions. Put phones in the glove compartment and all other electronic devices in their proper place. Though these are simple steps, it’s best to take care of them while the vehicle is parked.    

Weather-related Checks

In certain weather conditions, there are additional issues your teen should check. If your area gets snow, your teen should clean all windows, mirrors, and sensors of snow and ice. Be sure your teen cleans the entire windows, not just small portions. For rain, your teen should also check that the lights and windshield wipers are functioning, and that there’s plenty of wiper fluid available. Teach your teen to check fluid levels and tire pressure regularly, not to wait for warnings from the vehicle.

Practice: Every new driver is taught to check things like the mirrors and make adjustments before driving, but these habits often go away with experience. Get your teen in the habit of running through this checklist before every drive, whether it’s in an unfamiliar vehicle or the same car he or she has driven for years. It doesn’t take long to make these inspections, but they can go a long way toward keeping everyone on the road safe. You should also pick these habits up again so your teen will follow your lead and form a life-long habit.


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