How to Prepare Your Teen Driver

Teenage drivers account for a large amount of accidents on the road. Unfortunately, many result in serious injury. There have been many studies looking into the reasons for high rates of teen car accidents. One is that they are simply new to driving and unprepared for many situations.

Another is that teenagers tend to be easily distracted by friends in the car or other cars nearby, car radios or other things that more experienced drivers have learned to tune out. No matter what the reasons, teenage drivers have a higher likelihood of accidents and it should be taken seriously.

So as a parent, what can you do to prepare your teen for the safe driving? First, start them out with strict guidelines for driving. Most states have a graduated licensing system where teens have to use restricted licenses before they can have a regular driver’s license.

As soon as your teen is old enough for a restricted license you can start teaching them to drive. If you wait too long, they may become nervous and apprehensive. Narrate your own driving with them in the front seat and explain the decisions you make. And follow the rules of the restricted license.

Always know when and where your teen is driving and how many people are in the car. Studies show that the more people in the car with a teen driver, the more distracted they can get. Some parents limit the number of people who can be in their teen driver’s car while they are still in their first year or so of learning.

It can be a nerve-wracking process to help teach your teen to drive, but don’t give up and don’t move too quickly. Make sure that they have adequate time on the road before you let them drive without you, drive far distances or move to their regular license.

Teen driving education usually takes a year or more, which is why you typically see the graduated licensing program. To give your child a well-rounded education when you are teaching them, put them in different driving situations and circumstances.

At first, you’ll probably want to start in a large parking lot just so they get the hang of it. But as they progress, make sure they spend time on the highway, in new areas that they haven’t driven before, in conditions such as snow and rain, early morning with the sun glare, etc.

By exposing them to the most diverse driving situations you can, you are better preparing them. Don’t send your teen to test for their license if they have only driven the same route to school and work for a year. Your teen has a better chance of passing their driving test and being a more prepared driver if they have driven more than just their own neighborhood.

There is a lot you can do to best prepare your teen driver to go out into the world with their license. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot you can do about the cost of licensing them. It can be very costly to insure teen drivers because of their high risk of accidents.

Whether you as parents are paying for the insurance or your teen is paying it, you’ll want to do everything you can to keep the cost down.

Many car insurance companies have made efforts to help teens drive safer. Some companies that offer incentive programs for continued driving education, good driving records and for keeping grades up. Statistics have shown that good students with advanced driving education often have fewer accidents.

As a parent, you may want to look and see of your car insurance company offers incentives like these. Not only can you save money on the car insurance, you can feel more confident that your teen driver has taken more steps that may cut their chances of getting into an accident.

Even with these kinds of discounts your teen’s insurance will likely continue to be costly until they reach their twenties. To save costs, you can compare auto insurance quotes online to find the best rates. It may be less expensive than adding them onto your existing policy.

Once your teen is insured, tell them how important it is to keep their driving record clean. Obviously the number one reason to obey traffic laws is to be safe on the road. They should understand this by now. But carelessness while driving can also lead to tickets and increased insurance rates on already costly premiums.

Remind your teen to use their turn signal, pay extra attention to their speed in school zones and work zones, remember to check their head lights, tail lights and signal lights. Anything that could cost them a ticket or compromise their safety should be taken seriously.

– Mike

7/12/11  UPDATE

Texting is one of  a number of distractions our teens are creating for themselves while driving.  Traffic accidents are the #1 cause of death for our teens.   A  2010 study of teen driving behaviors released by the American Automobile Association and Seventeen magazine revealed some upsetting facts. Sixty percent have talked on a cell phone and 28 percent have sent a text message while driving. Teen drivers who have done texting while driving send on average twenty-three text messages while driving in a 30 day period. More than 1/3 of teens drivers  think they have been almost involved in an accident because of their texting.  Even with this knowledge, they are reluctant to stop texting behind the wheel.