Research shows that a new teenage driver's biggest obstacle in driving is lack of experience. According to the the CDC teens are more likely to "underestimate dangerous situations or not recognize hazardous situations...more likely to speed and allow shorter headways...[and] have the lowest rate of seat belt use."
What can you do to help keep your new driver safe?
- Educate your teen. Research shows that scare statistics do not work. Your teenager has already learned about some of those horrifying statistics. Instead, help them understand what some of the risk factors are. Include the following: driver inexperience, driving with teen passengers, nighttime driving, not using seat belts, distracted driving (this includes texting, talking on the phone, etc), drowsy driving, reckless driving, and impaired driving (this includes emotional state). CDC
- Enroll your teenager in a Graduated Driver Licensing Program (GDL). This program will give your new driver additional experience in driving and includes continued parental involvement. It's important to spend time driving with your teen even after he/she has received a driver's license. This give you an opportunity to gauge how your child is doing, and will help him/her become more aware of potential hazardous situations.
- New Driver Deal. Put together a driving agreement. This might include family rules regarding vehicle usage, times to be home, who can ride with the new driver. An example of a New Driver Deal can be found here.
- Example. You've heard "actions speak louder than words." You've also heard, "Do as I say, not as I do." Don't take chances that your teen will follow driving laws when you don't. Never practice a behavior you wouldn't want your teenager to practice. Nonverbal communication goes a long way!
Learning to drive is a rite of passage in our culture. Help your new teenage driver be safe and enjoy the new opportunity!