For many teenagers, getting a driver’s license is a rite of passage that brings them one step closer to adulthood. Unfortunately, distracted driving, drinking and driving, and not wearing a seat belt are just some of the known risks associated with teenage drivers.1
Most parents are painfully aware that automobile crashes are a leading cause of injury and death among teenagers.2 Fortunately, there are proven strategies to help prevent these tragedies, and your role as a parent is essential. Here are some steps you can take to help keep your teen safe behind the wheel.
Check your state’s graduated driver licensing program (GDL). GDL programs have been adopted in every state and are designed to allow young, novice drivers to practice their driving skills in low-risk situations. Restrictions such as late-night driving curfews and passenger limitations are gradually lifted, and greater responsibility is granted until teens ultimately earn full driving privileges.
GDL programs typically have three stages, beginning with a learner’s permit, followed by a provisional license, and ultimately leading to a full, unrestricted license. Be sure to review the GDL laws in your state and require your teen driver to follow them, even though they may seem restrictive or inconvenient.
Set a good example for your teen. Talk regularly with your teen about the importance of maintaining good driving habits and be sure to replicate that behavior when driving. You should also emphasize specific risks, such as cell phone use, speeding, and the use of drugs and/or alcohol while driving.
You may even want to make driving rules and consequences more clear by creating a parent-teen driving agreement. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a sample agreement that you can download at cdc.gov.
Take advantage of safe driving incentives. Although insuring a newly licensed driver may come with sticker shock, rates typically go down as a young driver gains more experience and maintains a clean driving record. In addition, many insurance companies offer discounts through safe driving incentive programs.
Ask your insurance company if it offers a good student discount (typically for students with a B or higher grade-point average) or a discount if you utilize a mobile app to monitor your teen’s driving habits.