As parents, you know that driving is a privilege and a big responsibility, so it pays to take some time to know how to get your teen ready for driving.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a great information source as you begin making plans to prepare your teen for driving. Definitely check out the site, but we’ve summarized five key points here:
Know the risks and facts. Car crashes are the number one killer of teens in the United States, and the age at which their risk of being injured in a crash begins to increase is age 12. Based on miles driven, teens are involved in three times as many fatal crashes as all other drivers. As parents, talk to your teen. Emphasize that driving is risky and should be taken seriously. Find out more information about the GDL (Graduated Driver Licensing) process for your state.
Licensing process. Look up your state and find out more information about the GDL (Graduated Driver Licensing) process. This link is for the GDL in California (but you can select any other state using the tab at the top of the web page). In the Golden State, there’s a three-stage process for teens to gradually gain exposure to complex driving situations, easing them into driving over an extended period of time.
a. Learner’s permit – During this stage, at age 15-1/2, teens can apply for a learner’s permit by going with their parent to the local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), bring a certified copy of their birth certificate, take and pass the traffic law, road sign and vision tests, and also provide proof they are enrolled in or completed driver education. The learner’s permit allows them to practice with a parent, guardian, driving instructor, or adult 25 or older with a valid California driver’s license. Teens are also required to do at least 50 hours of practice driving, including 10 at night, with a parent or legal guardian, before they can obtain their provisional license. They also need to complete classroom driver education and behind-the-wheel training.
b. Provisional license – At age 16, when teens have had a learners permit for six months, have completed the required practice driving and classroom and behind-the-wheel training, they can apply for a provisional license. They also need to pass a behind-the-wheel driving test. The provisional license allows teens to drive alone, but with restrictions. For the first 12 months (or until age 18), no driving between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.; no transporting passengers under age 20 unless accompanied by an adult 25 or older; seatbelts must be worn by driver and all passengers; no texting or using a hand-held phone, and drivers under 18 are prohibited from using even a hands-free cellphone.
c. Full license – At age 18, teens are eligible for their full license – assuming they’ve had no suspensions, probations or court-ordered restrictions. Parents should, however, continue to maintain their own rules for their newly-licensed teen drivers.
Insurance – Your teen won’t need insurance until he or she is licensed and driving without you or an instructor in the car. Look into getting your teen added to your own policy to help cut down on costs, but recognize that teens are higher risk, so your premiums will likely go up. You may also wish to comparison shop to see if the family policy might be less expensive and offer the same or better coverage with a different insurer. Don’t forget multi-policy, multi-car, good student, safe driver and other discounts.
Driver education – Enroll your teen in the best driver education school available in your area. Ask around and check references, including their Better Business Bureau rating. You want a driver education school that’s focused on safe driving, not just getting a teen a license to drive.
Stay involved. The best way to figure out how to get your teen ready for driving is to be well-informed, evaluate how ready your teen is to begin the driving process, to stay involved every step of the way, focus on safety, and be a good role model yourself.