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Keeping Teen Drivers Safe: Parents Have Much More Power Than They Think

When thinking about the relationship you have with your teenagers, it might sometimes seem as though they won’t listen to you about much of anything. But studies show that when it comes to teen drivers, they both listen to you and model their driving after how you drive.

That means you directly affect their life and safety when they get behind the wheel, and there are many actions you can take to lessen the risk of your teen driver dying or getting seriously injured in an accident.

Spend a lot of time coaching your teenager through a variety of difficult driving situations.

Getting a permit or license after a few driving tests and some experience driving in good weather conditions doesn’t mean your teenager is ready to drive in all situations. Bring your child along on rides and supervise their driving in a variety of situations, including:

  • Night driving
  • Rush hour traffic
  • Heavy highway traffic with multiple lanes
  • Downtown city traffic
  • Rain

During the drive, talk through some of the things you do to adapt to each driving condition, such as driving slower at night or moving over early to the correct lane to exit a highway during rush hour. In addition, you can also coach your teen about good driving habits, such as keeping an eye on hazards and not using their cell phone to text or talk while driving.

Limit certain kinds of vehicle access until your teenager gains more experience.

You don’t want to be too restrictive, but there are certain situations that you want to restrict until your teenager gains a lot of driving experience. That includes:

  • Night driving. Driving at night requires more instinct based on driving experience.
  • Driving with passengers. This is a difficult one because getting a car often means your teenager will want to drive their friends places. Yet, studies show that teens driving with passengers significantly increase their chance of having a car accident.
  • Bad or unusual traffic conditions such as rain, rush hour, heavy event traffic, or particularly difficult areas (such as highly populated metro areas).
  • Driving on very little sleep. Even if your teenager needs to get to a job or school, don’t let them drive on extremely low amounts of sleep if they are still an inexperienced driver.

Let your teenager drive as much as possible.

This tip seems to contradict the previous tip, but what we’re saying is to let your teenager drive as much as possible around your safety restrictions. As much as you may fear for their safety, your teenager needs to practice driving alone as much as possible. Let them rack up driving experience in good weather and while driving to their job or school. This allows them to gradually encounter more difficult driving as they acquire experience.

Revoke access when they break the rules.

You need to lay the law down about driving safety. If they drive with friends and don’t tell you, or if they come back later than they planned from a friend’s house and end up driving at night, consider revoking access to your vehicle. This is also why it’s not a good idea to immediately buy your teenager a car. They need to learn about the responsibility of driving safety. Driving a car is a privilege, not a right, and part of that privilege is learning how to be safe.

Luckily, Georgia’s Teenage & Adult Driver Responsibility Act (TADRA) helps teens become safer drivers with its graduated licensing program. Your teen will acquire a license in three phases:

  1. Instructional permit for 15-year-olds. After passing a written exam, your teenager can drive while supervised by an adult with a driver’s license. They need to hold this instructional permit for one year before getting an intermediate license.
  2. Intermediate license for 16-18 year olds. After passing a driving test, your teenager can drive unsupervised only under certain specific conditions. They must hold this intermediate license for one year without any major driving violations.
  3. Full license for anyone 18 years of age or older.

Even after receiving a full license, we still recommend implementing the tips in this article to make sure that your teen is the safest, most responsible driver possible.

If your teen does get injured in a car accident and you need some advice on what to do next, call us for a free consultation.