Learning to drive is both a rite of passage and a huge source of anxiety. The National Safety Council has developed the following driving checklist to help parents ensure that their teens are learning in the safest, most responsible way possible. Since they will be driving soon, it is hardly too early to encourage rule-following and graduated privileges.
- Permit at 16. Wait until age 16 for the learner’s permit, which is phase one of the driver’s licensing process. In some states, teens can obtain a permit earlier. However, it is best to wait until they are 16.
- Permit for 6 months. Keep your teenager in the learner’s permit phase for at least six months. During this stage, your teenager can only drive when supervised by an adult. As a result, he or she will learn through constant supervision and with continual guidance.
- Driver’s Ed and 50 Hours. In the permit phase, your teenager should (1) take a driver’s education class and (2) get a minimum of 50 hours of supervised driving by an adult, including at least 10 hours at night. Though this is the general rule, there is no way to reliably account for this practice time. Parents should hold their teens to this standard. Your job is to make sure they understanding that learning to drive is not the time or place to cut corners.
- Probationary License. After six months in the permit phase, your teenager is eligible for a probationary license (in some states this is called a restricted, junior, or provisional license). In this stage, your teenager can drive on her own, but with limitations: (1) no driving after 10 p.m. (and consider making that 9 p.m. for the first few months); and (2) absolutely no passengers in the car, except for an adult (who can continue to supervise).
- 17-1/2 for Full License. Teenagers should remain in this restricted phase—again, no passengers and no driving after 10 p.m.—for a year. This means that it’s not until, at earliest, 17-and-a-half years old that your teenager is ready for full licensure.
Source: The National Safety Council