Teen Driving Lessons | Pre-Drive Checklist for Parents and Teens

| Teens & Parents |

Embarking on the journey of teaching your teen to drive is a milestone event. It’s a time filled with excitement, apprehension, and a sense of responsibility. Before your teen starts the engine for their first driving lesson, there’s a vital pre-drive checklist every parent and teen should review. This guide will help ensure that both of you are prepared, safe, and aware of the vehicle’s condition and the driving environment.


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Understanding the Instruction Permit

Review the Permit: Start by thoroughly reviewing your teen’s instruction permit. It’s crucial to be aware of any provisional restrictions and specific instructions it may contain.

Provisional Restrictions: Make sure both you and your teen understand any limitations, such as driving hours or the need for a qualified supervisor in the passenger seat.

Choosing the Right Practice Area

Start Simple: Identify driving areas that match your teen’s current ability. Begin in low-traffic areas like residential or rural roads. This allows for a gradual introduction to driving without overwhelming your teen.

Increase Complexity Gradually: As your teen becomes more comfortable and skilled, you can slowly introduce more challenging environments like urban traffic or freeways. But remember, congested areas are not ideal for beginners.

Vehicle Preparation

Automatic Transmission: If available, consider starting with a vehicle that has an automatic transmission, as it is generally easier to handle for new drivers.

Tire Tread Check: Ensure each tire has at least 1/32” inch of tread depth across any two major adjacent grooves for safety.

Arm Signals Review: Go over the proper arm signals for left and right turns, and for slowing down or stopping. These are essential for situations where turn signals might fail.

Setting Up the Driving Environment

Seat and Mirror Adjustments: Have your teen sit in the driver’s seat and adjust the seat and mirrors for comfort and maximum visibility. Remember, the vehicle should have at least two mirrors, including one on the outside of the left side, that are secure and unbroken.  Consider having a mirror on the passenger side for better view of traffic behind you.

Safety First: Fasten the safety belts and adjust them for a snug fit. Emphasize the importance of always wearing a seatbelt as a lifelong habit.

Parental Positioning: The parent or guardian seat should be positioned in a way that allows taking control of the vehicle if necessary.

Checking the Vehicle’s Functionality

Operational Check: Before starting the engine, ensure that the following are fully functional:

Driver window

Turn signals

Brake lights

Hazard warning lights (emergency flashers)

Emergency/parking brake

Defroster (front/rear)



Windshield wipers

Windshield Visibility: Confirm that the windshield is free of cracks and materials that obstruct visibility.

Teen Driving Lessons | Pre-Drive Checklist for Parents and Teens

This comprehensive pre-drive checklist is designed to foster a safe, educational, and comfortable driving experience for your teen. By preparing both the vehicle and the driver, you are laying the foundation for responsible and skilled driving habits. Remember, these initial steps are as crucial as the driving lessons themselves, setting the tone for your teen’s driving future. So, take your time, be thorough, and most importantly, stay patient and supportive as your teen takes their first steps towards becoming a proficient driver.

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