Solo Teen Driving and Parents’ Concerns

Driving a car is definitely a challenge, and it can be especially difficult for teens because of their lack of driving experience. Parents are always concerned about their teen driving, and perhaps they should be, particularly during their teen’s first solo behind-the-wheel performances.

Being a parent you surely want to protect your child from any unpredictable threats. If you’re in the car with a new driver, you can give him or her helpful advice and correct their mistakes. But you can’t be around all the time, and eventually your teenager will start driving independently. How do you stop worrying and reassure yourself that your child is safe handling the road on their own?

It’s a sure thing that skill comes with practice: the more training teens can get, the better their driving will become. Many states have Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws that break down the licensing process into gradual steps and impose certain restrictions on teen driving. Even if your state doesn’t have a GDL program, it’s still a good idea, before handing the car keys to a newbie automobilist, to make sure that their behind-the-wheel training includes 30-50 hours of supervised driving. It’s also very important that teens spend at least 10 hours driving in the nighttime on variety of roads and different weather conditions.

After training is completed, the tests are passed, and the license is in the pocket, you are still the best judge for your teen. It is up to you to decide whether your child is ready to hit the road on their own. And if so, don’t forget the importance of focusing on the teen’s safety behind the wheel and discussing driving issues and dangerous situations on the road:

-Nighttime Driving: Driving in the dark can be alarming for all ages; but the risk is highest for teens. Parents should make sure their teen is off the road by 9 or 10 p.m. for at least the first six months of licensed driving.

-Seat Belts: The simplest way to stay safe and alive on the road is to buckle up. Parents should require their teen to wear a seat belt on every trip, regardless of duration and traveling speed. Be a good example for a beginner driver and always buckle up when in the car.

-Distracted Driving: Being distracted, even for a second, can result in bad consequences: drifting out of the lane and/or hitting adjacent cars or pedestrians. The time spent to send a message or email can crucially influence driving performance. Tell your new teen driver that using the phone, adjusting the radio, eating, drinking, and doing other activities are not acceptable when the car is moving.

-Drowsy Driving: A NSC study showed that sleep-deprived driving can be as dangerous as alcohol-impaired driving, but this issue is not usually recognized by young drivers. Make sure that your teen is fully rested before he or she gets behind the wheel.

-Reckless Driving: Research shows that teens lack the experience, judgment, and maturity to assess risky situations. As a parent you can stress the importance of avoiding unsafe behaviors, such as tailgating, speeding, and neglecting traffic signs…even on the empty streets.

-Impaired Driving: Even one drink will impair a teen’s driving ability and increase the risk of a crash. You can reinforce this message with your teen by being a good example: not having any alcohol if you are going to drive soon.

More Ways to Check Teen Driving

You can also start pre-drive check-ins with your teen. Collect information each time before your teen gets in the car, such as:

– Destination
– Routes to be taken
– Who will be in the vehicle
– Return time
– Any additional information that will help your teen be safe and sound

Having a Parent-Teen Contract can be an effective solution for regulating your teen’s driving activity. Take a look at the sample and customize it to your family’s rules.

Often we blame teenagers for their reckless driving and their irresponsible actions in the car and on the road, but where do you think they learn all these habits? If you talk on the phone, text, speed, or drive without your seat belt, so might your teen. Be a role model for your kids and positive results will come in return!