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 involved parents who enforce restrictions significantly reduce risky behavior during a driver’s first 12 to 18 months behind the wheel.

Is your teen ready to drive solo? Even if your teen is legally old enough to get a license, you decide whether your teen is ready to drive solo. Does your teen:

  • Detect driving hazards and react to them appropriately?
  • Always buckle up without being reminded?
  • Drive the speed limit and otherwise properly control the vehicle?
  • Remain calm while driving?
  • Follow your parent-teen driving agreement?

Require pre-drive check-ins. Each time your teen wants to drive alone, require a check-in before handing over the keys. Make sure your teen tells you:

  • Destinations
  • 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 to practice supervised driving until your teen logs at least 100 hours. Your teen might obtain an intermediate driver license before completing 100 hours of practice driving. This does not mean your teen 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 driving, 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.

  • 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 and lead 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 has already begun driving alone.
  • Sign up for the free online newsletter AAA StartSmart for webisodes and lessons to help your teen becomes a safe driver.