What does it take to keep teenagers safe behind the wheel? Here are Your Teen‘s top five take-aways from our recent feature article on driving.
5 Ways to Build a Better Teen Driver
1. State required Driver’s Education programs are only the first step. Remember even the “best” driver’s education program does not provide enough behind-the-wheel instruction. In fact, most programs offer no more than 10 to 20 hours behind the wheel. Most states require upwards of 50 hours behind the wheel. Experts recommend even more before allowing teenagers to drive on their own.
2. Learn how to be a driving coach. You will have to make up the difference between your teenager’s driver’s education class and what’s actually required to get a license in your particular state. Pick up one of the many comprehensive guides to teaching a teenager how to drive, including our favorite 3 Keys to Keeping Your Teen Alive.
3. Follow best-practice graduated driver’s licensing (GDL) rules. GDL rules ease teenagers into driving in ways that are proven to keep them safe. Not every state, however, has adopted the most stringent version of these rules as recommended by the National Safety Council (NSC).
Some Learner’s Permit Requirements
The NSC says teenagers should wait until 16 to get a permit. Most states, however, allow teenagers as young as 15 to do so. The NSC also recommends no passengers in a teenager’s car – with the exception of an adult – the entire first year of driving. Many states see it otherwise.
Click here to view our best-practice GDL Cheat Sheet and consider adopting it for your family, regardless of what your state allows.
4. Lead by example. When you are behind the wheel, make sure that you are modeling excellent driving behaviors. That means buckle up, put the cell phone away, and follow all the rules. Teenagers are inclined to adopt the driving habits of the adults in their lives.
5. Sign a contract. Last, but hardly least, download a parent-teen driving agreement from the Internet and sign it before your teenager gets behind the wheel for the very first time. These agreements lay out rules for driving, as well as penalties for when rules are broken. Click here for an example.
For a more in-depth look at how to raise a safe teenage driver, read our feature story My Teenager is Driving!