Help Your Teen Become a Safer Driver
As a parent, you have a lot of influence on your teen driver's safety. Setting and enforcing rules, serving as a good example and practice, practice, practice are only a few of them.
Here are a few tips on how you can help your teen become a safe and responsible driver:
1. Familiarize yourself with your State's Licensing Law
The Graduated Licensing Law was introduced in some states to keep teens and beginning drivers safer while out on the road. In Washington, it restricts certain driving privileges such as
- For the first 6 months, a teen may not drive with passengers under the age of 20, other than immediate family members
- For the next 6 months, a teen may not carry more than 3 passengers under the age of 20 in their car
- Nighttime Driving:
- During the first 12 months, a teen may not drive between the hours of 1:00am and 5:00am unless they are accompanied by a licensed driver aged 25 or older.
- Cell Phone Use:
- Teen Drivers are not permitted to use a wireless device while driving - whether or not it's equipped with a hands-free device. The only permitted use of a cell phone for a young driver is to report an emergency.
Read more about Washington's Graduated Licensing Law
Read more about Oregon's Graduated Licensing Law
Read more about Utah's Licensing Law
2. Serve as a Good Example
Your teen whatches what you do - even though he or she might not admit it. She might not even consciously observe you, but still - your driving behavior matters. Whether you make it a habit to always turn your headlights on or never start the car without wearing your seat belt, or whether you usually have a beverage in your cup holder (and, distractedly, consume it while you are driving) - you are likely setting routines that become ingrained in your children's minds as they grow up to be young drivers themselves.
It pays to consciously set good habits and encourage your teen to do the same.
3. Practice, Practice, Practice
The Washington State Department of Licensing recommends at least 50 hours of supervised driving practice (including 10 hours at night) with someone who has been licensed 5 years or more. That's the bare minimum! Practice (and bond) with your teen over highway drives, parallel parking and vehicle maintenance.
The Washington State Department of Licensing has published a great Parent Guide to Teen Driving, as well as a Licensing Logbook.
4. Set Rules - and Enforce Them, Too
Always insist that your child and all passengers wear seat belts. It could save their lives. And, it's the law.
Set curfews, as well as consequences if the curfew is missed.
Encourage studying and obtaining good grades. Studies have shown that good students and responsible driving often go together - and insurance companies reward good students with a GPA of 3.0 or higher with discounts of up to 30%.
Establish your expectations, and agree on consequences if the expectations are not met. (A Parent-Teen Safe Driving Contract can help, such as the one provided by Safeco - one of the insurance companies represented by McClainn Insurance Services.)
Don't forget to reward your teen for great driving behavior and accident-free driving.
5. Choose a Safe Car
The smallest, most inexpensive car may not be the best choice for a beginning driver - and neither may be the brand new sports car or SUV. When selecting a car for your teen, look for one with the best crash test ratings and safety features.
View the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety top vehicle ratings here.