How to prepare yourself for having a teen driver

I am reminded nearly every week with an update.
16 weeks
16 weeks until my 14 year old son will have turned 15, enrolled in drivers ed and officially be legal to hit the roads with a parent in the car.
My friends and I have spent the past year talking about our strategy.
We've discussed things like, "do we wait to enroll them in drivers ed until closer to their 16th birthday or do we allow our kids the chance to get more driving time in with their permit?"
"Do we let our kids drive with friends?"
"Will our oldest child be able to drive our younger children around?"
"What if it's raining and our kids need to drive to school?"

On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to go to the Drive it Home Show put on by the Allstate foundation in conjunction with the National Safety Council.
Drive it home is a new program offering specially created resources created by parents for parents to help keep their teens safer on the road.

I'm interested in soaking up as much advice and information as possible before my oldest son hits the roads!

Car crashes are the number one killer of Americans 3-25 years old, with the teen crash rate three times more than any other age group.

"We know from our research that parents are the No.1 source of information for teen drivers, yet 40 percent don't know car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens," said Vicky Dinges, vice president of corporate social responsibility at Allstate. "Drive it Home can help protect teen drivers, educate parents on the crucial role they play in the driving process, and help ensure our sons and daughters return home each and every night."

Half of all kids in High School will be in a crash.

Notice I said crash and not accident.  The National Safety Council makes this distinction because a crash is preventable, an accident is not.  
Most teen driving crashes are preventable.

The number one cause of crashes for teens is inexperience.

In Washington state, teens need to complete drivers training and have their permit for at least six months.
Teens must complete 50 hours of driving practice, 10 hours of those must be at night.
It takes 1500 hours of training to be a cosmetologist and yet we stick our young children behind the wheel of a two ton vehicle with very little training.

Washington does have a graduated drivers license program.  No passengers under 20 years old except for immediate family members for the first six months.  For the second six months, no more than 3 passengers under 20 years old except for immediate family members.  

Newly licensed drivers with 1 passenger increase their death rate in a car crash by 50%
If they have 2 passengers in the car that rate doubles.
If they have 3 or more passengers that rate quadruples!

In our state, for the first 12 months there is no driving between 1-5 am unless you are with a licensed driver with over 5 years experience.
40% of fatal teen crashes occur at night.
Most of them due to inexperience.

The information at Drive it Home was presented by the Chicago based Second City comedy group.
They took a very sensitive topic and looked at it in a way that brought humor and education to awareness.

"Dr. Bill" spent some time in a TV therapy session with this mom and her teen daughter.
This mom wanted her teen daughter to have a "zombie like devotion to everything I say", and her newly driving daughter wanted to be able to make her own mistakes.
Dr. Bill walked this pair through the steps to roll play {or biscuit play as he liked to call it} through an authoritative parenting style as her daughter took this mom out for a drive.

Research shows that authoritative parents keep kids safer and produce better trained drivers.

There were several speakers at the event and they all gave very helpful information.
The most helpful information to remember is that while 
the state sets the law, we as parents need to realize that the law is the minimum and that we need to set our own law for our teen drivers.
When my son gets his permit, its my job to drive with him, explain what I can about the situations he faces when he drives, but once he gets his license, my job doesn't end there.
Newly licensed drivers are 30x's more likely to get in a car crash in the first six months of getting their license. encourages parents to drive with their newly licensed driver for at least a half an hour a week.

Parents can take that time to assess your teens skills, encourage them on things they need to work on and provide feedback for them in critical driving areas like:
*scanning the road ahead for hazards
*controlling speed, stopping, turning and following distance
*judging the gap between vehicles in traffic for opportunities to make a left turn out of a parking lot
*and for managing the highest risks, driving at night and driving with passengers in the car
This video has some statistics that will make you think.
It will also give you some tips on what you can do as a parent to help your teen driver avoid being a statistic.
please visit, parents can sign up for weekly driving practice tips via e-mail and you can print and discuss the parent-teen driving agreement.
Our family has a teen cell phone agreement.  Of course, we are going to have a driving agreement!
Any experienced parents with teen drivers have any tips they want to offer?
I would love to hear what your agreements are with your teen drivers.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

1 comment

Zoë said...

Wow it so much easier to get your license in the US than it is in New Zealand.
You get your learners at 16, which you have to have for a minimum of 6 months. You have to pass a really hard test to get your restricted, which you have for 1 and half years. On your restricted you cannot have any passengers and can only drive between 5am - 10pm.
Finally you get your full! I think the key thing is to take it slow, no matter how eager your teenager is.

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