A learner’s permit means your teen can start learning to drive, but no matter how much they beg and plead, don’t let them drive home from the DMV office the day they pass their test. They aren’t prepared and it’s dangerous. It also teaches them to take a cavalier attitude about a very serious activity.

More teens die in car crashes every year than from illness, street violence or drugs – combined! And – tragically – 99% of those crashes are completely preventable. So when you start your driving lessons, keep your eye on the real prize – keeping your teen alive! The decisions you make now will have a big impact on how they drive in the future and could save their life. Start them off right.

A good driving course is a great start, but most driving courses provide less than 8 hours of behind-the-wheel practice. Experts agree new drivers need at least 100 hours to develop the reflexive driving skills they’ll need when something unexpected happens on the road. (And experienced drivers know – unexpected things happen every day!)

Make sure your teen uses the checklist below - everytime they sit in the driver's seat.
Start-up Checklist

Before you get in the vehicle:
1. Open the hood and check the windshield washer fluid. If it’s low, fill it up. (You never know when mud will splash or something else will obscure your vision.) Check the rear washer fluid too.

2. Walk around the car. Make sure there is nothing behind the vehicle or in the path you’ll be taking. Every day, in the United States, a child dies because someone accidentally backed over them.
Walking around the vehicle also gives the driver an opportunity to check for any damage to the vehicle. If someone scratched your car, you need to be able to tell the insurance company where it happened.

After you get in the vehicle:
3. Check your gas gauge. If it’s near the quarter tank mark, make sure you fill it up soon. Developing this habit will keep you from getting stranded by running out of gas.

4. Adjust your seat. You need to be high enough to see clearly and close enough to use the accelerator and brake. Your chest should be at least 10 inches away from the steering wheel to protect you from the airbag.

5. Adjust your mirrors. Check the video library at http://TeensLearntoDrive.com for tips on how.

6. Adjust your headrest. It should be squarely behind your head and could prevent you from getting whiplash if you’re involved in a crash.

7. Adjust your steering wheel.

8. Turn off your cell phone and the radio. You need to be able to hear your coach and stay focused on the road.

9. Secure any loose objects. If you stop suddenly, a loose pen can become a dart.

10. Buckle your seat belt and make sure everyone else in the car is buckled up too.

11. Lock the doors if they don’t lock automatically.

For more tips on how to get started, check out the Video Library at http://TeensLearntoDrive.com.

Author's Bio: 

Anne Marie Hayes is the author of "3 Keys to Keeping Your Teen Alive: Lessons for Surviving the First Year of Driving".
She is the president of Teens Learn To Drive (http://TeensLearnToDrive.com) which is dedicated to helping parents support, coach and monitor their teen drivers so they learn safe driving habits and develop good reflexive driving skills.
Actively involved parents are the #1 key to reducing the death and injury toll of teen drivers.