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Parent-Teen Training Guide - Safe Driver Checklist


Parent-Teen Training Guide - Safe Driver Checklist

Use this checklist when your teen has finished practicing all the driving skills discussed in this guide. Take your teen on a long "test" ride. As you ride, check your teen's driving against the checklist. Be sure that your teen is following the safe driving habits listed. Check (v) each item you see your teen doing correctly. This list should tell you where your teen driver needs practice or help. Your teen should, as a habit, do all of the things listed before taking the driving test at the DMV.

Locate the Controls

Your teen locates the following controls and explains how they work:

  1. 4-way flashers.
  2. Emergency and parking brakes.
  3. Headlights.
  4. Heater/defroster.
  5. Horn.
  6. Windshield wipers.

Before Starting the Vehicle

  1. Adjusts the mirrors.
  2. Fastens safety belt.

Starting the Vehicle

  1. Vehicle is in "Park" or "Neutral."
  2. Foot is on the brake pedal.
  3. Starts vehicle smoothly.

Moving Forward

  1. Signals.
  2. Looks over shoulder before pulling into traffic.
  3. Uses both hands on opposite sides of the steering wheel.


  1. Stops when necessary behind crosswalks or limit lines.
  2. Uses correct foot on the brake pedal.


  1. Signals and slows for turns.
  2. Begins and ends turns in the correct lane.
  3. Yields right-of-way, when necessary.
  4. Accepts legal right-of-way, when safe.
  5. Sees and reacts to hazards.


  1. Before moving, surveys the surroundings for possible obstacles.
  2. Looks back over right shoulder when backing.
  3. Checks the mirrors and glances quickly to the side while backing.

Changing Lanes

  1. Signals.
  2. Checks the mirrors.
  3. Checks over shoulder.
  4. Changes lanes safely.

Parking on Hills

  1. Signals.
  2. Curbs the wheels properly.
  3. Sets the parking brake.
  4. Signals and checks over shoulder before entering traffic.

Parallel Parking

  1. Signals.
  2. Looks over shoulder while backing.
  3. Yields to other vehicles, when necessary.

Entering the Freeway

  1. Checks traffic flow.
  2. Signals.
  3. Times entry into freeway.
  4. Checks over shoulder when accelerating into gap in traffic.
  5. Signals early and slows down on the exit ramp to posted speed limit.
  6. Adjusts speed to road conditions.

Defensive Driving Techniques

  1. Checks the mirrors frequently and before braking.
  2. Checks the cross streets before entering intersections.
  3. Checks the signal lights and signs.
  4. Keeps eyes "moving" (watching sides and middle of road).
  5. Keeps a "space cushion" around the vehicle.
  6. Follows at a safe distance.


When your teen drives well enough to pass the DMV driving test for a provisional driver license, ask yourself the questions below to confirm that you have not overlooked some necessary driving practice or knowledge:

  1. Have we discussed high-risk conditions, such as driving under the influence of alcohol and/ or drugs?
  2. Does my teen know what to do if he/she feels it is unsafe to drive because he/she has been drinking alcohol, and/or using drugs, or is fatigued?
  3. Have we practiced in heavy city traffic?
  4. Have we practiced on one-way streets and at intersections with three-way signals?
  5. Have we practiced using a center left turn lane?
  6. Have we practiced on small country roads, on gravel roads with potholes, and on hills?
  7. Have we practiced in bad weather?
  8. Have we practiced at night?
  9. Have we practiced entering, exiting, and driving on a freeway?
  10. Have we discussed what to do if an emergency occurs?
  11. Have we discussed what to do if a collision occurs?
  12. Does my teen know I can cancel his/her license at any time and for any reason? Does my teen know I will cancel the license if he/she drives irresponsibly or violates traffic laws?

When you are sure your teen is ready for a license, confirm that the required hours are logged on the "Supervised Driving Log". Then, sign the certifying line of his or her instruction permit. Your teen is now ready to take a driving test with a DMV examiner if he or she has held his or her permit for at least six months from the day it was issued. (The waiting period is mandatory even though your teen may have already practiced all the driving skills listed here.) Your teen must not drive to the DMV office alone on the day of the driving test.



Vision and Law Tests

  • Make a morning appointment, if possible.
  • Be rested after a good night's sleep.
  • Bring your glasses or wear your contact lenses.
  • Be sure the lenses of your glasses are clean.
  • Visit the DMV website at to use the Driving Knowledge Tutorial and take one or more of the sample written tests.
  • Take a couple of days to study the information in the California Driver Handbook.
  • Read the test questions carefully. Do not read anything extra into the questions. There will be one correct answer. The other two answer choices will be either obviously wrong or not appropriate for the question asked.
  • All the questions are taken from the California Driver Handbook. If you miss a question, a DMV employee can show you on which page of the current California Driver Handbook to find the correct answer.
  • Do not be nervous.
  • You are allowed to take three law tests before a new application fee must be paid.
  • If you fail the law test, you must wait one week before taking the test again.

Practice First

  • You must have practiced for 50 hours, including 10 hours of night driving, before going to the DMV for the driving test.
  • Practice making left and right turns at busy intersections, as well as, in residential neighborhoods.
  • Remember to look over your right shoulder for a right lane change and over your left shoulder for a left lane change.
  • Use your turn signals for all lane changes and turns.

Driving Test

  • Make a morning appointment, if possible.
  • Be sure your vehicle is properly registered and bring proof of financial responsibility (insurance).
  • Confirm that your instructor has signed your permit.
  • Make sure your parent has signed your permit verifying the 50 hours of training.
  • Bring a licensed driver, who is 25 years old, or older and has a valid California driver license.
  • Be sure you are thoroughly familiar with the vehicle you use for the driving test. You must know where all the controls are located and how to use them. Do not borrow a vehicle for the driving test, unless necessary. It will be one more thing to make you nervous.
  • Relax!
  • If you fail the driving test, you must wait two weeks and pay a retest fee before taking the test again.

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