7 Tips For Keeping Your Teen Safe When They Start Driving

Getting behind the wheel is an exciting milestone for any teenager, but it can also be a source of anxiety for parents. 

As any nervous parent knows, teens are statistically more likely to be involved in an accident than individuals from any other age group.

That means it’s vital for parents to take precautions when it comes to letting their child get behind the wheel of a vehicle. 

Here are a few tips to help minimize the risk and bring you some peace of mind when your teen starts hitting the highways.

Tips For Keeping Your Teen Safe When They Start Driving

1. Set Clear Rules and Expectations

When your teenager starts driving, the first step is to set very clear rules and expectations for what they are supposed to do behind the wheel. Here are a few expectations to set that you can go over with your kid: 

  • Always wear a seatbelt, and make sure anyone else in the car is wearing one too. 
  • Follow all rules regarding stop lights, stop signs and speed limits. 
  • If you set a curfew for when your child should be home, make sure it’s clearly communicated. 
  • Set expectations for avoiding distracted driving, including how and when to use the radio or a touch screen if applicable (some parents may enact a “no music” rule when their teen first starts learning). 
  • If your teen is just starting, you might want to set restrictions on where they can drive, such as avoiding roads with particularly severe traffic during rush hour. 

Make sure you go over your expectations with your teen, including explaining which rules will always be in place (such as the seat belt requirement) and which rules, like restrictions on what kind of roads they can drive on, can change with time. 

Coming to a clear agreement about what you expect from them can give them a solid foundation for exploring their newfound freedom safely. 

2. Give Them Plenty of Practice Time

Before your teen gets their full license, they need plenty of practice behind the wheel first. Whether they get a learner’s permit or not, you should be working with them on practicing their skills as often as possible.

Go over the basics first — accelerating and decelerating, stopping safely, using the turn signal — and then move on to more complex moves. 

You should help your teen get practice in a variety of settings, from safe, empty parking lots to busy streets with traffic.

Although it’s tempting to keep your teen in the safety of your local empty IKEA parking lot forever, it’s important to remember that they need to be challenged to develop their skills. Build goals, including managing a small side street, a busy main road and then a highway. 

Don’t forget to help them practice driving in the dark, driving in the fog or driving in rainy conditions (and, if applicable, snowy conditions). 

3. Limit the Number of Passengers They Can Carry

Teens can be easily distracted, especially when they’re excited about the prospect of independently traveling with all their friends wherever they want.

Although your kid might be hopping at the opportunity to pick up their best friend and head down to the local mall, it’s a good idea to set limits on how many people they can carry at a time.

When your teen is first starting out, you should only let them drive with one experienced, fully licensed adult in the car with them. As they gain more experience, they can slowly be allowed to carry one passenger, and then more — but only if they demonstrate the ability to stay focused with passengers in the car. 

4. Lead by Example

It’s easy to focus on what you want your teen to do to stay safe — but the best way to encourage them to practice safe driving habits is to demonstrate by example.

Make sure that when your teen is in the car — and really, even if your teen isn’t in the car — that you follow all rules of the road. 

Keep your hands in the right positions on the steering wheel, minimize distracted driving, avoid demonstrating road rage and follow the road signs when you’re traveling behind the wheel with your son or daughter. 

Ultimately, your kids are going to learn how to drive on their own by watching you drive. If you’re flippant about the rules of the road, they will probably come to the conclusion that the rules are unnecessary.

If you follow the rules diligently, they might be more inclined to understand that adults who have the privilege of driving keep it by following the rules. 

5. Set Rules Around Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is a leading cause of accidents among teen drivers. It’s no surprise — teens are easily distracted by friends, music, and even sights that they see out the window of their vehicle. That means it’s important to talk to your teenager about the dangers of taking phone calls, texting, and playing with the radio while driving. 

No matter how many statistics you show your teen regarding the dangers of texting behind the wheel, chances are they won’t understand why they have to take it seriously. 

Although you want them to understand why they shouldn’t text and drive, the most important thing is that they don’t — so if you need to, it might make sense to invest in technology that can limit a driver’s ability to use their phone when behind the wheel. 

6. Invest in Safety Features

If you’re thinking about getting a new vehicle for your teen to begin their driving journey, it’s worth making sure that the car you purchase for your teen comes with some key safety features, including: 

  • Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB)
  • Lane Departure Warning (LDW)
  • Blind Spot Monitoring
  • Forward Collision Warning
  • Adaptive Cruise Control

All these safety features can make a significant difference when it comes to keeping your child safe on the road. 

As an added benefit, most insurance companies are willing to offer discounts for vehicles that come with safety features like the ones listed above, since they reduce the chance of accidents. Insuring a new driver can be costly, so anything that can bring the overall price of insurance down is a plus.

7. Stay Involved in Their Driving Habits

Even after your teen gets their license, it is important to stay involved in their driving habits. Continue to talk to them about safe driving practices and make sure they are following the rules you have established.

Keep track of their driving behavior and intervene if necessary.

In conclusion, keeping your teen driver safe on the road requires a combination of education, practice, and vigilance. 

By setting clear rules and expectations, practicing with them, limiting passengers, setting a good example, discussing the dangers of distracted driving, investing in safety features, and staying involved, parents can help their teens become safe and responsible drivers.

Julie Higgins
Julie is a Staff Writer at momooze.com. She has been working in publishing houses before joining the editorial team at momooze. Julie's love and passion are topics around beauty, lifestyle, hair and nails.