Parents of teens have many challenges. Parents often experience concern when their teens learn to drive, and increased concern once their teens get their driver’s licenses. Teen drivers are statistically more reckless than adults. For example, Pennsylvania’s Buhl Foundation reported that as of 2019, the driver’s licenses of over 57,000 teens are suspended each year. Here are some things parents need to discuss with their teens before they get behind the wheel.

1. Check the Car Before Driving

Every driver should prioritize car safety. Helping your teen use a “safety checklist” before they drive can result in finding out the car needs attention before it is driven.

Some items for this safety checklist include:

1 Adjust Mirrors.

Do the mirrors allow your teen driver to see clearly?

2. Asses Tires

Does your teen know where to get air and how to add it?

3 Check Gas Gauge

If the car needs gas, be sure your teen driver has gas money.

4 Inspect Gas Cap

Blogger Brandon Gaille reports loose gas caps are a frequent reason for a ‘check engine’ light. Gaille estimates loose gas caps could result in the evaporation of up to 147 million gallons of gasoline per year.

2. Communicate Rules For Using Phones

Teens need to agree never to text while driving. Not only is it unsafe, but it is also illegal in most states. Parents also need to discuss whether they are okay with teens answering hands-free phone calls while driving. If your family car doesn’t have hands-free technology, your teen should agree to pull over before answering their phone.

3. Convey Dangers of Distracted Driving

Teens may not realize how routine actions in the car may become a distraction. Fixing their hair, adjusting the radio, eating, drinking or talking to other passengers can divert a driver’s attention from the road long enough to lead to an accident.

4. Assign Responsibility

Parents are often relieved to know their teens can now take themselves to practice, but teens should also agree to help by driving to the grocery store, the pharmacy, or to their siblings’ activities.

Parents who joke about driving “Mom’s Taxi” may be relieved to pass those trips along to teens. If you discuss family expectations before your teens get their licenses, you’ll find your teen ready to help with daily errands.

5. Use Manual Transmissions

Although today’s cars most frequently use automatic transmissions, up to 13% of cars sold each year have a manual transmission. The skills needed to drive those vehicles are different – and your teen needs to know them.

6. Prepare for Accidents

Worried parents may pray their teens will stay accident-free, but practical parents should also discuss what their teens should do if they do have a car accident.

Teens need to know the importance of notifying the police after an accident, the need to exchange information with the other car’s driver, and to contact the insurance company.

Patents should assure their teens they can call their parents if an accident occurs. It’s natural for any driver to panic after an accident, and a parent’s reassurance can go a long way toward helping their teen driver handle the accident with a responsible and mature attitude.

Parents who partner with their teens through their quest for a driver’s license- and who continue that partnership once their teens become drivers will help their teens reduce their chances of being part of an accident. A good teen driver most often has an informative and supportive parent. Do your best to guide your teen and trust that they will make the right choices.