Your child just passed their driver’s test and received a license. Congratulations! This is a major milestone not only for teen drivers, but for their parents as well. It’s important to make sure this new freedom doesn’t turn into disaster. Setting boundaries and rules for your teen driver now can help keep them safe on the road.
Consider enforcing these rules while your young driver is still gaining experience.
Set Expectations Right Away
Your child probably understands some of the basic rules of driving. Almost everyone understands you shouldn’t drink and drive, or that texting and driving can easily cause an accident. House rules, however, like a curfew or where your child is allowed to drive, may not be as obvious to your new driver.
To make sure your teen driver understands the rules- both obvious and less clear- lay them out clearly before they hit the road. Consider printing out a sheet of house driving rules to help your teen understand what’s expected of them.
You should also put together a system of punishments or repercussions if your child breaks the rules. This might include taking away the keys and driving privileges for a set amount of time.
Limit Nighttime Driving
Most tasks are more difficult when the light is low and shadows are playing tricks on your eyes. Driving is perhaps one of the most dangerous things you can do at night. Even if your teen has their headlights on, you never know who might be driving near them with dim or burnt-out headlight or taillights. Spotting pedestrians and bikers is also a more difficult task in low light.
Drunk drivers are also likely to increase during certain times, such as Friday nights. Set limits to how often your teen is allowed to drive at night until they are more experienced. No weekend nighttime driving, or setting strict weekend curfews, may help reduce your child’s risk of being in an accident.
It’s also a good idea to take your teen driving at night and ride as a passenger. This allows you to encourage safe nighttime driving habits as they gain experience.
Take Away the Cell Phone and Other Distractions
It’s common knowledge that cell phones and cars don’t mix. Yet many drivers, from teens to adults, still use their phones when driving. Make a no-phone policy one of your most important rules for the road. Be sure to encourage your child to put their phone somewhere out of reach and turn off the sound when driving. If the phone is in the glove compartment or backseat, and turned off or on silent, it’s easier to forget it’s there. Most smartphones allows you to enable a mode called Do Not Disturb While Driving which will prevent incoming phone calls, texts, and notifications from distracting you.
Other distractions can cause a teen driver to swerve or make mistakes as well. Set up rules for changing the radio, eating and drinking or looking for something in a bag while driving. Even without a phone in hand, distracted driving is one of the most dangerous gambles your teen can make.
Keep Passengers to a Minimum
Having friends in their car may be even more distracting for your teen than a cell phone. Talking, laughing and enjoying the company of their peers is a great way for your child to bond with friends. During a car ride, however, hanging out with friends can lead to an increased risk of accidents.
Many states use a graduated driver’s license that restricts the number of passengers teen drivers can have in the car. Some restrictions include requiring other teens to ride in the backseat or only allowing multiple passengers if an adult over 21 is in the car as well. Even if your state doesn’t have legal restrictions on number of passengers, it’s a good idea to put a rule in place. Generally, no more than one passenger should be in the vehicle at a time while your teen driver is still learning. Encourage your teen and their friends to be respectful to one another when driving, such as limiting conversation and helping reduce distractions.
Set Local Driving Boundaries
The freedom of the open road can be tempting for a teen driver. Help keep your young driver safe by placing restrictions on where they can and can’t go in your local area. As your driver gets more experience on the road, you can lift these restrictions.
In addition to physical boundaries, set speed limit and highway boundaries as well until your teen is a confident enough driver to handle certain situations. For example, a highway with speed limits of 75 miles an hour at rush hour is probably not ideal for a new driver.
Work with your teen to gain experience driving in different situations. You can take them out on a speedy highway during mid-morning traffic lulls, for instance. This gets your driver used to faster speeds in a less stressful and less crowded environment.
Go Over Rules of the Road
Your teen driver likely just passed their driving test. That doesn’t mean, however, that they remember every detail of the rules of the road. Make safe driving tips and traffic laws a part of your normal conversations to keep an open dialogue between you and your teen about safe driving.
Frequent conversations around safe driving helps keep things like buckling up or following the speed limit on your teen’s mind. It can also be a good refresher for you. Make it an open conversation between you and your teen. After all, they may have learned something in driver’s ed that you forgot about- making you both safer drivers.
Preparing your teen to be a safe driver can be quite worrisome. We’re here to help guide you in this new milestone. Be sure to have the right insurance requirements for your teen driver before they hit the road. Call one of our helpful agents today to learn more about the steps you need to take.