Key Points for Parents
Your teen will be at the highest risk for a crash in the months ahead, so continue to work together. Studies show parental involvement and restrictions significantly reduce risky behavior during a driver’s first 12 to 18 months behind the wheel.
Gauge whether your teen is ready to drive without you. Even if your teen is legally old enough to get a license, you’re the best judge of readiness, and you decide whether your teen gets licensed. Ask yourself if your teen has accomplished these goals:
- Practiced enough and in varying conditions?
- Detects driving hazards and reacts to them appropriately?
- Always buckles up without being reminded?
- Drives the speed limit and otherwise controls the vehicle properly?
- Remains calm while driving?
- Follows your parent-teen driving agreement?
Require pre-drive “check-ins.” Each time your teen wants to drive, require a check-in with you before handing over the keys. Make sure your teen gives you all the information you require:
- Routes to be taken
- Who will be in the vehicle (remember: more passengers = more risk)
- Return time
- Check-in points
- Any other information you feel will help keep your teen safe and sound
These check-ins also give you a last-minute opportunity to remind your teen to use a safety belt, turn off the cell phone, keep the music volume down, stick to geographical boundaries and so forth.
Continue supervised driving until your teen logs at least 100 hours. Your teen might obtain an intermediate license before completing 100 hours of supervised practice driving. This does not mean your young driver no longer needs to practice, though. Solo driving is actually the riskiest phase for your teen, so stay engaged.
Keep talking about driving issues. The more time your teen spends behind the wheel, the more experiences you’ll both have to talk about, such as dealing with tailgaters, distractions, speeding, poor weather conditions and more. Emphasize the dangers of common hazards:
More You Can Do
- Promise to provide and maintain a safe vehicle.
- Set clear rules and expectations about driving.
- Continue to periodically ride along with your teen to review progress and ensure you are comfortable with your teen’s driving habits.
- Gradually introduce new driving privileges.
- Continue to be a driving role model through leading by example.
- Offer feedback in a calm, respectful manner.
- Continue to coach in a variety of driving conditions, including in the rain and at night, as well as on highways, country roads and in heavy traffic.
- Reiterate limits on passengers and nighttime driving restrictions. As your teen progresses, you can relax them gradually, but stay engaged.
- Implement the AAA StartSmart Parent-Teen Driving Agreement even if your teen is driving alone. You’ll both still benefit from spelling out family rules regarding driving.
- Sign up for AAA StartSmart - an online newsletter that’ll help you and your teen learn more about becoming a safe driver.