Teen Driving: Safety Tips for Parents

One in 4 crash fatalities in the United States involves a 16-to-24-year-old. Have we got your attention? That’s the point.


Oct. 18-24 is National Teen Driver Safety Week, so we’re providing some tips for parents as they help teach their children to drive safely.


Set the example.

One of the toughest and most important rules to adhere to is “practice what you preach.” This starts long before your teen ever gets a license. If you don’t want your teen talking on a cell phone or eating while driving, don’t do those things when your teen is riding with you.

Always buckle your seat belt before you start the car. Make sure you’re not speeding or tailgating. Try not to drive if you’re angry or tired.

Practice, practice, practice.

The single most important thing you can do to help your teen stay safe on the roads is to allow as much supervised practice behind the wheel as possible.

Keep it interesting.

Varying the routes, time of day and driving conditions will ensure the new driver in your family gains confidence in a wide range of driving situations.

Research shows that night driving, driving with passengers, and driving without a destination are all factors that contribute to high crash rates. Remember to set ground rules before your teen driver is licensed.

No passengers for at least six months.

Research shows that a teen’s risk of being involved in a crash increases exponentially with each peer passenger in the car. Until you’re sure your teen can manage passengers and other distractions responsibly, insist that no driving be done unless an adult is present.

Then, start by allowing only one passenger and gradually increasing the number of teen passengers allowed in the car. Teach your teen that it’s okay to tell passengers, “Please don’t distract me while I’m driving.”

Daytime driving for at least six months.

Teens’ crash risk increases at night. For the first six months, your teen shouldn’t drive after 10 p.m. After this, gradually allow later driving—perhaps by half-hour increments.

It’s best to wait on buying teens their own car.

It’s not recommended that teen drivers be immediately given a car of their own. For the first year or so, share the family car (a later-model, mid-sized to large sedan is safest).

This allows parents to control access to the vehicle, which makes it easier to agree on conditions of use (wearing a seat belt,  no passengers, no cell phone, responsibility for gas/repairs, etc.).

Teach your teen how to “scan” for hazards.

One of the most common problems young drivers have is scanning their surroundings for potential hazards. The tendency is to look only as far as the car in front of them, in effect “blinding” them to road conditions further ahead, and reducing their space to react to hazards.

During your supervised driving practice, remind the driver to keep an eye on the traffic several cars ahead and to the sides, looking for brake lights, traffic signals, roadblocks, pedestrians, or emergency vehicles.

Source: State Farm Insurance


State Farm Teen Driving Site—This website provides some helpful information including: parent tips, tips for teens, laws in your state and fast facts.

Driver’s Edge—A program that teaches teens about safe driving. Their national tour usually stops in the Chicago area at least once a year.

Teen Driver Safety on Cyber Drive Illinios—A section of the Illinois Secretary of State website that focuses on Teen Driver Safety. It includes laws, tips and restrictions.

Book recommendations

Crashproof Your Kids: Make Your Teen a Safer, Smarter Driver ” by Timothy C. Smith—written by a driving instructor, this book creates a plan to help your teen handle emergencies and drive safely.

The Driving Book: Everything New Drivers Need to Know but Don’t Know to Ask ” by Karen Gravelle—a common sense guide that covers everyday issues like auto maintenance, getting gas, bad weather, road rage and the difference between city and country driving.

Safe Young Drivers: A Guide for Parents and Teens ” by Phil Beradelli—intended for parents and teens to use together, this book not only explores teen safety behind the wheel but also addresses the relationship between parent and child and how teaching a child to drive can strengthen the relationship.

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