As your son or daughter approaches driving age, you’re naturally inclined to be a bit apprehensive. After all, this is a huge step, and one that entails a great deal of personal responsibility. Is your teen ready for driving? Are you ready to embark with them on this all-important step into independence and adulthood?

Don’t panic. Take a look at some of the following good driving tips for teens that parents can share – and should.

Practice driving as much as possible the first year. When your teen is just learning how to drive and obtains his or her learner’s permit, it’s important that you or another responsible adult or driver training instructor be in the car while the teen practices driving. This should occur during all types of driving conditions, including heavy traffic, freeway driving, and driving during inclement weather conditions. Limit nighttime driving for the first few months, but definitely factor this in as your teen comes closer to obtaining a full driver’s license.

There’s plenty of evidence to prove the theory that continued practice leads to a safer and more responsible teen driver. Talk with your teen about your own experiences as you began learning how to drive, how your parents’ encouragement, support and example helped ease your transition from non-driving passenger to driver.

As for the laws regarding graduated driver licensing (GDL), know which ones are specific to your state. Find out by checking the GDL state laws links on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

Discuss and implement a parent-teen driving agreement. Many insurance companies (such as AAA, Allstate, State Farm, Liberty Mutual, and others), state departments of motor vehicles, the CDC, and other safety advocacy organizations have parent-teen driving agreements. What are these? Basically, parents create a set of driving rules to address the leading hazards for teen drivers – such as driving at night – and put them into a parent-teen driving agreement that includes consequences for breaking the rules.

As you create the various rules, such as no texting or use of cell phones while driving, engage your teen in discussion about why the rules and the enforcement for violating such rules is important. When you complete the parent-teen driving agreement, have your teen sign it. Keep it in a place that’s clearly visible or accessible for frequent referral. When your teen knows the family rules about driving, it highlights the importance of driving safety. Be sure to let your teen know that following the rules and driving safely will result in more driving privileges.

Lead by example. While you might think that teenagers are just naturally rebellious and will do just the opposite of what they’re supposed to whenever you’re not looking, numerous research studies point to the importance of parental influence and role modeling in helping to create responsible safe teen drivers. If you use a cell phone while driving, or are constantly texting behind the wheel, speeding 10 to 15 miles over the limit because you’re always late, or engaging in other forms of distracted and/or unsafe driving, your teen will pick up on this behavior and likely follow suit.

On the other hand, when you drive in a safe, courteous and responsible manner at all times, this behavior is also duly noted by your teen who, by the way, has been watching you like a hawk for years.

Other Good Driving Tips

Every family is different, but common sense, courtesy and good driving habits are pretty much universal. Some other good driving tips for teens that parents can share include:

  • Always wear seat belts and insist all passengers are buckled up.
  • Never drive when you are tired or sleepy or are feeling ill.
  • If you are in a car with a driver who is texting, using a cell phone, or engaged in other distracted driving behavior, point it out to the driver and ask that the activity be curtailed.
  • Never drive or be a passenger in a vehicle where the driver has been drinking or doing drugs.
  • Keep distractions at bay while you are in a vehicle, including fiddling with the radio or CDs, reaching for something on the seat or the floor, eating, drinking beverages, putting on makeup and others.
  • Don’t allow any passenger roughhousing in the vehicle when you are driving.
  • Maintain a safe distance from vehicles ahead.
  • Stay out of the speed lane on freeways.
  • Never pass on a hill or a blind curve.
  • Be sure to have clean windshields, headlights and taillights at all times.

While these are just a sampling of parental tips you can share with your teens, use them as a thought-starter to create your own list of suggestions to help your son or daughter get on the road to being a safe driver.

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