How to Prepare Your Teen for Their First Car

Many teenagers consider getting their first car a rite of passage. As they patiently wait for their 18th birthday, the first thing most of them have in mind is the prospect of driving themselves to school and, later on, to college.

But just like every “first” in a teenager’s life, being able to drive for the first time can be just as intimidating to parents as it is to their kids. Driving a car safely and responsibly isn’t something you can master overnight. There are several steps that need to be followed and many of them can overwhelm a teen. At any rate, it’s important to provide as much support as you can to prepare your teen for the road and have peace of mind knowing that they are responsible behind the wheel.

Here are a few tips you might want to apply as you prepare your teen for this new milestone:

1. Get them to ride shotgun


By the time they reach their 18th birthday, your teen should have learned all the necessary skills for driving. That said, it’s important to teach your teen about the basics as early as you can. The best way is to let them observe how you drive.

Have your teen sit in the front passenger’s seat as you drive. This can provide them with a good view of how you control the vehicle properly and teach them how to behave behind the wheel. Chances are, they might pick up on your good habits and apply them when they finally get to drive their own car. You should also find opportunities to properly steer, brake, and park.

2. Focus on safety


Apart from teaching your teen how to maneuver a car, you also need to demonstrate some important techniques for improving safety. While the idea of having your teen take the wheel is a scary thing, reckless drivers and obstacles are unavoidable and need to be expected, so it’s important to show your teen what they can do to minimize such risks and prevent any injuries and damages.

For this, make sure that your teen understands the five most important rules every new driver needs to know:

  • Avoid distractions – Your teen has to keep their eyes on the road and avoid using their smartphone when driving.
  • Keep away from alcohol – Drinking and driving are neither legal nor safe, so be sure that your teen realizes that doing so can endanger themselves and others.
  • Check the weather – Wet roads are dangerous, so it’s best to avoid driving in bad conditions. If your teen does have to drive in inclement weather, make sure they’re taking it slow.
  • Wear a seatbelt at all times – This is an obvious step in responsible driving, but too much excitement often causes teens to overlook this very essential rule.
  • Excessive overtaking – Fast and Furious movies might make this seemingly simple, but only professionals can do it in real life. Make it clear to your teen that they need to abide by speed limits and avoid changing lanes aggressively.

Considering your teen has minimal experience behind the wheel, these safety rules, along with car maintenance routines, should be first and foremost in their head before they even get to shopping for the right vehicle.

3. Set up practice sessions


Lecturing your teen about proper safe driving techniques is not enough to prepare them for the real thing. That said, you might as well schedule practice sessions with your teen. This doesn’t mean that you need to start driving along actual streets but rather picking a space large enough for your teen to practice in.

You can look for a spacious parking lot where your teen could practice essential skills like steering and braking. Such a place should also offer the opportunity to learn about different ways to park a car. This hands-on training should make it easier for your teen to master the fundamentals once they enter a driving school and get their license.

4. Look for the right car


As your teen learns the essential skills they need to start driving, they’ll need a vehicle to suit their needs. Make sure to opt for a vehicle that’s easy to handle and offers the best protection against crashes.

Whether you are planning to buy a new model or a second-hand vehicle, it’s often advisable to pick something that’s larger. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recommends cars that are safe, reliable, and affordable. In terms of safety, it’s best to choose cars that have efficient braking systems and sturdy bodies.

You don’t have to choose newer models to match your criteria for safety. Mid-sized cars like the Honda Accord sedan and Subaru Legacy are just some of the best options for first-time drivers owing to their reliability and affordability.

At any rate, picking the best car doesn’t happen instantly. You and your teen will need a great deal of time before you finally decide on the right vehicle for them.

5. Pick the best auto insurance


Once your teen obtains their license and you have a car in mind that you’d like to purchase, it’s important to consider the auto insurance policy you will be getting. States require drivers to have auto insurance, but it’s important to remember getting the proper coverage isn’t just for the sake of compliance.

Auto insurance brings added relief if you pick the right policy based on the car your teen will be driving, among other factors. Moreover, as you gather car insurance quotes from providers like, it’s important to involve your teen in the process. They need to learn everything they can about auto insurance, especially when it comes to increasing liability coverage and potentially filing a car accident claim in the future.

Parents are always the best teachers, so as you prepare your teen for the road, take every minute of it seriously. You’ll end up creating a responsible driver in the process.

About Jeanette Iglesias