Parents Hold the Key

What You Should Know About: 

Teaching Your Teenager to Drive Safely and Responsibly

Parents: Helping your teen become a safe and capable driver starts with you.

Three things you should know:

  1. The riskiest time in most teenager’s lives begins when they start driving.
  2. Parents are the number one influence on their teen driver’s safety. 
  3. Parents who impose driving restrictions and set good examples typically results in less risky driving behaviors by their teen driver.

As a parent, you are in the best position to coach the teenage drivers in your household and teach them be capable, responsible drivers. While driver education programs are crucial to new drivers learning the rules of the road, parents shouldn’t rely on them solely. It’s essential that a parent be involved in their teen’s driving education from the beginning and stay involved during their teen years. It will be well worth the time, effort and patience knowing you did everything possible to increase your teen’s safety while they’re behind the wheel.

What You Can Do

Drivers Education

Enroll your teen in a drivers education course and learn about your state’s Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) law.

Provide Plenty of Practice

Give your teen plenty of opportunities to practice driving while you supervise as a passenger. At least 100 hours of driving practice with your teen is typically recommended. Start with small trips to help build your teen’s confidence and do your best to be patient and give constructive feedback to help your teen stay relaxed and receptive to learning. More tips about how to coach your teen is available on AAA’s website.

Discuss the Rules

Talk to your teen about the laws against impaired and distracted driving, the need to use seatbelts and avoid speeding – and about the risks, dangers and consequences that could occur if they violate the laws, rules or fail to stick to safe driving behaviors.

Sign a Teen/Parent contract

One way to help encourage responsible driving habits for your teen is to create a “driving contract” that clearly states the driving rules and the consequences for breaking those rules. A contract should address which car your teen is allowed to drive, taking care of the car (filling it with gas, oil changes and keeping it clean), driving safely (no speeding, wearing seatbelts), never using a cell phone while driving, letting the parents know when they are coming and going, no illegal drinking or drug use, having a curfew and following your state’s Graduated Driver’s License law (which prohibits passengers in the car and limits driving hours at night, typically in the first year or so of having a driver’s license). Parent-Teen Driving Contracts are available at various websites. One example of a contract can be found here.

Set a good example

One of the most effective things you can do to prepare the future drivers in your family is be a good role model while behind the wheel. It won’t hold much weight when you tell your teen not to speed, tailgate or text while driving if they often see you engage in those poor driving behaviors yourself. Always set a good example for your teen by driving safely, follow all traffic laws, never drive distracted and wear your seatbelt.

Pick a safe car

If you’re purchasing a car for your teen or helping them find one on their own, choose a car that is easy to drive and offers protection in the event of a crash. Bigger, heavier vehicles are safer for teens to drive, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Find a vehicle with the best safety rating possible, stay away from vehicles with high horsepower and check for recalls. For more information about the best vehicles for teens, visit the IIHS website.

Safety Products

Investing in a few safety products may help you keep some peace of mind while your teen is driving. Be sure to store a car emergency kit and a first aid kit in the vehicle. Always keep a spare tire, jack and lug wrench in the car and even a spare GPS. Also, bottled water and snack food with a long shelf life are recommended in case your or your teen get stranded.

Information provided by Insurance Information Institute, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and AAA

Parents Hold the Key