Teen Driving Safety Tips to Share with Young Drivers
Teen Driving Safety Tips to Share with Young Drivers
Getting one’s first driver’s license is a time-honored rite of passage that most teenagers look forward to. Many grown-ups still have fond memories of their own first time behind the wheel.
But that rite of passage also comes with significant safety risks.
Did you know motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens ages 16 to 19? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 6 teens die every day from car crash injuries.1
The good news is there are many ways to reduce the risk and keep young people safe on the road. If your own son or daughter is getting close to driving age, here’s what you should know to help them become a safe, responsible driver.
Graduated Drivers Licensing
All 50 states and the District of Columbia have adopted Graduated Driver Licensing laws, in which young drivers must pass three stages before “graduating” to full, unrestricted driver status.2
Here’s how the system works in Missouri:
- Learner Stage: Minimum age 15. Teens must hold this license for at least 6 months before getting an Intermediate License. They must complete 40 hours of supervised driving, including 10 hours of supervised night driving.
- Intermediate Stage: Minimum age 16. This level includes a nighttime driving restriction from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. Teens may carry no more than one passenger under 19 for the first 6 months, and no more than three passengers under 19 thereafter.
- Full privilege minimum age with no restrictions: Age 18.
Lots of Practice Time
Driving is a skill that takes a great deal of practice, just like learning to play a sport or musical instrument.
- Studies show that teens need at least 30-50 hours of supervised practice over at least 6 months to become adept at driving.
- While your teen is practicing, teach the importance of watching for hazards, including other vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists and debris in the roadway.
- Let your teen practice on a variety of roads, at different times of day, in different weather conditions and different traffic conditions.3
By the way, teens pay more attention to parents than you think! So set a good example by practicing good driving habits yourself.4
Teen drivers are the least likely age group to use a safety belt, and the consequences are deadly. The majority of teens involved in fatal crashes are not buckled up.4
Remind your teen to fasten their seatbelt every time they drive or ride in a car, whether it’s across town or just a block away. They’ll reduce their risk of dying in a crash, as well as the severity of any injuries. On top of that, it’s the law!3
Avoid Distracted Driving
One-third of teens admit to texting while driving, an often tragic mistake that increases the risk of a crash by 23 times.
Remind teens that their number one priority when driving is to pay attention to the road, and that calls and text messages can wait.
By the way, distracted driving means any activity that takes one’s attention away from the road, not just using the phone. That includes applying cosmetics, fixing one’s hair, adjusting the air conditioner, changing radio stations and eating or drinking, even non-alcoholic beverages.4
Teens can also be distracted by the presence of other teens in the passenger seat.
In fact, the risk of a fatal crash actually increases as the number of teens in the car goes up. Teen drivers are 2.5 times more likely to engage in risky driving maneuvers when carrying a passenger than when driving alone.4
In Missouri, teens with an Intermediate Driver’s License may carry no more than one passenger under 19 for the first 6 months. The limit increases to no more than 3 passengers under 19 after that.3
Driving at Night
Drivers of all ages are more likely to experience a fatal crash after sundown, but the risk is highest for teens.
Include regular nighttime practice sessions during the Learning stage. Require your teen to be off the road by 9-10 p.m. for at least the first 6 months of driving independently.3
Another good reason to get off the road early is to make sure your teen gets enough sleep.
The risk of an accident is highest when your teen is most likely to be feeling tired — late at night and early in the morning.3 Too little sleep affects alertness, attention, judgment, decision-making and reaction time.4
Encourage your teen to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, and to stop using electronic devices well in advance of turning out the lights. Not only will it promote good overall health, it will also make your teen a safer driver!
Speeding and Reckless Driving
New drivers lack the experience, maturity and judgment to assess risk.3 In fact, teens tend to drive faster as they gain more confidence in their driving abilities.4
This is why it’s so important to monitor your teen while they drive for the first few months, and to keep distractions at a minimum.
Make sure your teen stays within the speed limit. Remind them to slow down in response to poor road conditions and to maintain adequate space between vehicles — no tailgating!3
Driving While Impaired
Teens are at a higher risk of being involved in alcohol-related crashes than other age groups. Besides the risk of death and injury, remind your teen of the other possible consequences of impaired driving:4
- Jail time
- Attorney’s fees
- Court costs
- Higher insurance rates
- Loss of scholarships and other academic opportunities
- Loss of driver’s license
Remember that drugs, besides alcohol, can impair driving ability, including some legal drugs. If your teen is taking any medications, ask the doctor if it is safe to drive while taking them.
Also, teens should never ride with someone who is impaired. Let them know they can call you from any location, at any time, day or night, for a safe ride home.4
Car Insurance for Teens
On average, adding a teen driver to your policy will raise your premiums by about $2,000 per year, but the exact amount will vary depending on other circumstances.5
Even if your teen buys their own policy, as their parent you must still sign the policy and will be liable for any accidents they have until they turn 18. Also note that car insurance typically costs more for teen boys than for girls.
Here are some ways you can save money on car insurance for teens:
- Start shopping early, before your teen gets a learner’s permit.
- List your teen as the primary driver on the cheapest car you own.
- Encourage your teen to drive an economical sedan or 4-wheel drive. Stay away from sports cars.
- Safety features that can lower interest rates include anti-theft, anti-lock brakes, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warnings and collision warnings.
In addition, many insurers offer discounts for teen drivers based on a number of factors:
- Earning good grades at school
- Attending school away from home
- Completing a defensive driving course
- Low-mileage driving
- Staying accident-free for the first 3 years
- Installing a GPS device to monitor driving behavior
- Insuring multiple cars on the same policy
Learning to drive can be an exciting time for teens, but a stressful time for parents. By following the habits above, you can help your teen become a safe driver.
And if you’re looking for car insurance for your teen, contact The Resource Center. We’ll review all of your options to help you choose the best policy for your family’s needs.