Getting a license is an exciting time for a teenager, but it can be a stressful moment for a parent to see their child behind the wheel for the first time.
Worrying about our children is natural, especially as they start to gain more independence.
But, by preparing yourself and your child for potential challenges on the road, you can help improve your teen driver’s safety and reduce your concerns.
Start by using these seven ways to help ensure your teen is using safe driving techniques on the road:
Know the Restrictions on Their License
Most states and provinces provide new drivers with a restricted license.
For example, in Florida, a teen driver has to have a permit for at least a year with no traffic violations, complete 50 hours behind the wheel, and pass both a written and driving test.
Once they get their license, the hours they can drive are restricted according to how old they are.
It’s important to know what the restrictions for your teen driver are according to where you live, so you can make sure they follow those rules.
Come Up With a Cell Phone Plan
Cell phone use while driving is a huge problem. Those using a phone while driving have a three-to-four-fold increased risk of a near crash or crash.
Most teens know it’s dangerous, but they continue to use their phone anyway. Nearly half of high school students in the U.S. have admitted to texting while driving within the last month.
Don’t assume that your child will avoid using the phone while driving on their own. Come up with a plan so you know they won’t.
For example, you might require them to keep their phone on silent in the backseat or trunk while driving.
Just make sure they know you won’t get mad if they don’t text or call you back right away because they’re driving.
They should also know the consequences if you catch them using their phone behind the wheel.
Let Them Drive With One or No Friends
Although carpooling with friends is helpful, environmentally conscious, and fun, it is extremely dangerous for teens.
Their risk of death per mile driven quadruples with three or more teen passengers in the car. It increases by a whopping 44 percent with just one passenger in the car.
For this reason, many states and provinces have started to limit the number of permitted passengers in the vehicle of new drivers.
Regardless of the laws in your area, the safest option is to not let your teen drive any friends when they first start driving. As they gain your trust, you can allow them to drive with one friend.
Only under special circumstances that you approve should your teen driver be allowed to drive with two or more passengers in the car.
Consider a Car Tracking App
Car tracking apps are great for parents with teen drivers, because they can show you exactly where your child is.
You can check to see if they are really over at their friend’s house, or you can track them down when they haven’t arrived home by curfew.
Some car-tracking apps offer other perks too. They can alert you if the car is in an accident, request medical services on the driver’s behalf, and offer roadside assistance.
Depending on the one you install, you may also be able to keep tabs on your teen’s speed.
When they know you know how fast they are driving, they are a lot less likely to put the pedal to the metal.
Talk about the data from the app in an open and understanding way, and your teen can make adjustments to be a better driver.
Program Emergency Numbers in Their Phone
Your teen probably knows they can call you in any type of emergency situation, but do they know how to get ahold of others in the event of an emergency?
This can be especially important if you are unable to answer your phone when they call.
A few emergency numbers you can help them program into their phone could include:
- Next-door neighbors
- Local non-emergency police line
- Tow truck
- Roadside assistance company
Talk About What They Need to Do Before They Start the Car
It’s easy to hop in the car and worry about changing the radio station or queueing up the GPS once you’ve hit the road, but that can be dangerous, especially for teenage drivers.
It’s much better if they know what they need to do to get everything ready before they put the car in drive.
That might include changing the radio station, plugging a destination into Google Maps, adjusting the seat, and turning on the air.
If your teen uses a music streaming service, they should also decide on the album, artist, or playlist they want to listen to before they start driving..
The goal is to spend the least amount of time pushing buttons on the dash or an electronic device, so they can keep their eyes on the road.
Drive With Them Sometimes
Most parents spend a lot of time in the car with their teen as they’re learning to drive, but as soon as they get their license, they don’t anymore.
You should drive with your teen even after they get their license. Have them drive to the grocery store or let them take a turn driving the next time your family goes on a road trip.
It gives them the opportunity to practice safe driving habits, but it also shows them that you trust them behind the wheel.
Just make sure you spend more time acting relaxed and less time nagging, so they want to drive again next time!
Whether getting pulled over for speeding or getting into an accident, there are plenty of ways teens can get into trouble driving a car.
But, with solid rules in place, you’ll be better able to help keep your child safe behind the wheel as they enjoy their newfound independence.