Your teen sees a driverís license as a step toward freedom, but you might not be sure your teen is ready for the road. One thing is certain: teens arenít ready to have the same level of driving responsibility as older adults. Teen drivers have more fatal crashes, mainly because of their immaturity and lack of experience. They speed, they make mistakes, and they get distracted easily - especially if their friends are in the car. To help your teen stay safe behind the wheel, 46 States and the District of Columbia now have graduated driver licensing (GDL) programs that limit high-risk driving situations for new drivers. These programs can reduce your teenís crash risk by as much as 50 percent.
What can you do?
- Learn about your Stateís GDL program, if there is one. Know the restrictions placed on your teenís license and enforce those limits. Even if your state doesnít have an official program, you can lay some important ground rules for your teen driver. Restrict night driving and passengers, prohibit driving while on the phone, and require seat belt use at all times.
- Be a good role model. Remember that your child looks to you as a driver, so practice safe driving yourself. Set aside time to take your teen on practice driving sessions. It can be a great way to spend time together and to allow your teen to improve some basic driving skills. Your teenís learning starts at home.
- Don't rely solely on a driverís education class to teach your teen to drive. Remember that driverís education should be used as just part of a GDL program.
Bottom line: You have more influence on your teen than you may think.