Advice for parents of teen drivers
Here’s our advice for parents of teen drivers! Most new teen drivers are beyond excited to get their driver’s license. Let’s face it. Getting a license is a major milestone in any teenager’s life. It equates to independence and mobility. No longer does your child have to rely on mom or dad for rides to school, friends’ homes, games and practices, and other after school activities. Teens can’t wait to cruise around town on their own. And who can blame them for their excitement?
However, for parents, the major milestone can induce sleepless nights, minor panic attacks, and feelings of anxiety. These all come into play, especially if it’s your first time going through the process of having a child hit the road. For these reasons, Drive Smart Georgia is happy to offer some helpful and calming advice to nervous parents of new drivers.
Step #1 – Take a deep breath!
Auto accidents is the #1 killer of teens, so it’s important to take the learning to drive process very seriously. The first step is to take a deep breath and try to relax. Yes, knowing that your baby will soon be behind the wheel of an automobile is downright scary. However, your baby is no longer a baby.
He or she is becoming an independent individual and a new teen driver. While you may want to keep your kids as close as possible, it’s not your job. As a parent, your goal is to raise independent, responsible individuals who can soar to success once they leave your nest. Getting a driver’s license is one of the first steps.
Find a AAA-recommended Driver’s Ed program for your teen driver
After taking a deep breath and trying to relax a bit, the next step is to find a AAA-recommended Drivers Ed program. As a leader in auto safety, AAA evaluates driving schools and recommends only ones that pass its rigorous standards. You can also look online and compare reviews when trying to find a suitable driving school for your new teen driver.
The classroom portion of Driver’s Ed includes 30 hours of lectures, training, and (hopefully) interactive activities. However, learning how to drive extends well beyond the classroom. Proper in-car training is also critical to producing a lifelong safe driver.
Many driving schools, like Drive Smart Georgia in Atlanta, offer packages that include both classroom training and in-car driving lessons with a highly qualified professional. In fact, our driving school vehicles have a second brake and accelerator on the instructor’s side of the car (just in case).
Parental involvement is key for the safety of new teen drivers
In addition to classroom hours and in-car instruction, new teen drivers must practice what they learn. This is where you come in. Encourage your child to drive with you.
Practice makes perfect, but parents should also know the facts. According to the CDC, car accidents remain the #1 cause of death for teens 15-19. Your child may be a great driver, but not everyone else on the road is.
Learning how to drive also involves learning how to react to different and potentially dangerous situations. With a cool head and steady hand of guidance, you can work with your teen to gain valuable driving experience. It may be tough, but you can do it!
The first year is the most dangerous
Here’s some more advice for parents of teen drivers. Once new teen drivers actually pass the road test to obtain that coveted driver’s license, a parent’s role doesn’t end. In fact, the first year of driving is the most dangerous. That’s why parents should set rules and enforce consequences for bad decisions.
A good starting point is introducing a Teen Driver Contract, like one by AAA. Before signing it, discuss that unsupervised driving is a privilege that comes with a specific set of rules and regulations.
It’s important to address issues like nighttime driving and the number of passengers allowed in the car. Setting up driving rules and consequences not only drives safety home, but a signed contract between parents and new teen drivers can also add to your own peace of mind.
Examples of safety rules for teen drivers
Below are some examples of safety rules for new teen drivers.
- Check in with a parent every time your teen drives.
- Do not take unnecessary risks while driving.
- Obey all traffic laws, signs, and speed limits.
- No drinking and driving. Ever.
- No peer passengers in the car for the first six months.
- Eliminate all driving distractions.
Violations and consequences for new teen drivers
The violations and consequences are entirely up to you, the concerned parent. Most importantly, be sure to get buy-in from your new driver and to always enforce the consequences.
Below are some examples of rule violations and potential consequences.
- Speeding ticket – Lose driving privileges for two months.
- Using cell phone while driving. Lose driving privileges for two weeks.
- Didn’t make all passengers wear seat belts. Lose privileges for one week.
- Lied about where going with car. Lose driving privileges for two weeks.
- Coming home late without calling. Lose driving privileges for two weeks.
- Too many passengers in the car. Lose driving privileges for one month.
- Used alcohol or drugs before driving. Lose driving privileges for two months.
Final advice for parents of teen drivers
The good news is that teen crashes and deaths are on the decline. The bad news is that too many new teen drivers are still dying behind the wheel every year. You are worried sick about your baby getting a driver’s license, but that’s completely normal. As a concerned parent, you worry every time your new teen driver grabs the keys.
These feelings are natural. With parental involvement and the proper training, your teen can and WILL learn lifelong good driving habits. So, breathe. You will survive this, parents.
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