I have a newly-minted driver in our family. Even after teaching my four oldest how to drive, I still hold my breath as my newest driver backs down the driveway.
I mean on the one hand—freedom! Once he started driving himself to classes and practice, it was like someone handing me a few extra afternoons a week. But then freedom?! I’m not the second pair of eyes in the car anymore, the cautionary voice to make sure he’s driving slow enough and safe enough.
There’s really more involved that just knowing how to drive. Before teaching your teenager to drive, and eventually handing over the keys, here are 10 things your new teen driver needs to know before you release her to drive alone.
- Oil changes: What kind of oil does the car take, how often does the oil need to be changed and how will she keep track of it? Teach your child how to check the oil level and how to add oil when needed.
- Tire maintenance: Teach your child how to read the tire pressure recommendations and how to add air to a low tire. Teach him how to check tire treads for wear and how to determine whether the tires need to be rebalanced.
- Car battery: Make sure your teen knows where the jumper cables are stored in the car and how to safely use them. They may be needed not only for your teen’s car but for helping a friend get her car started.
- Cell phone use: Yes, of course, your teen knows not to surf Facebook while driving, but does she know it’s off-limits even when she’s stopped at a red light or slowed by traffic? Even when a parent calls or she needs the GPS, talk to her about pulling over safely to use the phone and how to keep it out of temptation’s way.
- Driving with friends: Discuss whether your teen is allowed to drive with other friends in the car. If he is, make sure his friends’ parents have agreed as well. And how many friends will he be allowed to drive at a time?
- Leaving and arriving: Do you have a system so that your teen can notify you when he arrives at his destination, when he’s leaving to come back home, or when he’s changing plans?
- Accident protocol: Walk your teen through the steps of what to do if he’s involved in an accident. You will want to cover situations like when to move the car, when he should stay in the car or move to safety, who needs to be called, and where the vehicle registration and insurance cards are kept.
- Indicator lights: Does your teen know what the engine sensor lights in your car mean? Would he recognize the tire pressure indicator light or oil pressure warning? Have him read through the car’s manual to learn about the gauges and dashboard indicators.
- Roadside service: What steps does your teen need to take if one of the warning lights does come on or a tire blows? Does she know how to change the tire? Talk about the steps to take if you have roadside service for the car.
- Police stops: I don’t think any of my children was pulled over while they had a learner’s permit, but they have all had, at least, one experience while driving on their own. So make sure your teen knows how and where to pull over for a police officer and how to respond to the officer’s instructions.
What would you add to this list?