Key Points for Parents
You play a critical role in your teen’s learning-to-drive process. Here are some important actions you can take at this stage.
Evaluate your teen’s readiness. Talk with your teen about personal responsibility, ability to follow rules and any other concerns before beginning the learning-to-drive process.
Get informed. A lot has changed since you earned your driver’s license. Graduated driver licensing (GDL), driver education, license restrictions and supervised practice driving are all part of today’s licensing process. And the state sets parameters throughout a multi-stage licensing process for young drivers, such as times of day they can drive and how many passengers they can carry.
AAA can help you understand what is involved in earning a license in Washington. A great place to start is with Dare to Prepare, an online workshop that gives you the basics on the licensing process.
Start talking now. You have acquired “road wisdom” over the years – insight you’ll want to share, because it could save your teen from having to learn things the hard way. Talk about the learning-to-drive process:
- What does it take to be a safe driver? What do you do?
- When will your teen start driving?
- What rules and responsibilities, such as paying for fuel and insurance, will your family have once your teen starts driving?
The more issues you address early, the safer and smoother the whole process will be. AAA offers StartSmart, a set of research-based e-newsletters you can use to guide discussions with your teen throughout the entire learning-to-drive process
Focus on passenger safety. Even though your teen isn’t driving yet, traffic crashes are a real danger. Crash risks begin to increase at age 12. Talk to your teen about:
- Always buckling up.
- Not riding with a teen driver without your advance permission.
- Being a safe passenger with teen and adult drivers.
Be involved. When you’re behind the wheel, talk about what you see (road signs, pedestrians, other vehicles, etc.) that could result in the need to change speed, direction or both. Have your teen comment, too. Be active in the learning-to-drive process: Maintain an ongoing dialogue about your teen’s driving, appropriately restrict driving privileges and conduct plenty of supervised practice driving. Washington requires that parents and their teens conduct 50 hours of supervised practice driving (including 10 hours at night), but AAA recommends at least 100 hours. AAA provides tips and advice on how to conduct effective supervised driving practice.
Be a good role model. Your teen has been watching your driving habits for the last decade or so. And as your teen begins the learning-to-drive process, that focus will likely increase. So, make changes in your driving to prevent any poor driving habits from being passed on. Show you take driving seriously.
What You Can Do
- Always wear your seat belt.
- Obey traffic laws.
- Do not use a cell phone while driving.
- Watch your speed.
- Don’t tailgate.
- Use your turn signals.
- Don’t drive when angry or tired.