Driving Tips for Teens

When teens pass the behind-the-wheel driving test, some may incorrectly believe they are equally skilled as other “licensed” drivers. This makes it difficult for them to understand why certain activities are restricted during the early months of licensure.

What are some new driver tips parents can use to guide their teens to becoming experienced drivers? Consider the Intermediate Period as a learner permit “plus” not a full license “minus.” By passing the behind-the-wheel test, teens have demonstrated that they’re ready to practice independently. The Intermediate Period establishes a supportive framework for them to continue to learn without the additional pressures and dangers associated with being fully licensed.

Driving Tips for the Intermediate Phase

Here are some more intermediate driving license tips to help parents guide their teens as they transition from a supervised learner to an independent learner:

Co-develop house rules. Parents should work with teens to establish house rules for driving, including no texting or talking while driving and no driving while intoxicated, and consequences for not following them. Many families use their state’s driving laws as a guide, but family rules should be modified to the teen’s growing maturity and competence. Teens and parents should understand that rules are about safety, not control.

Control the keys. Research shows teens that own or have easy access to a car are more than twice as likely to crash when compared to teens who share a car with family members. Having to ask to use the car also gives teen and parents the opportunity talk about plans for driving, where they’re going and when they will be back.

Encourage two-way communication. To keep teens safe, setting rules, asking questions and watching closely, sometimes called “monitoring,” is important but not always enough. 

How to get teens to tell their parents what they need to know to keep them safe? Start early to establish mutual trust. When rules are being set, teens want to hear and deserve to know the reasons for the rules -- that they are in place for safety, not to control their lives. Parents should listen and be responsive to a teen’s concerns, which are often quite practical and solvable. When teens want to get out of unsafe situations with their friends, parents can be the scapegoat for their safety-oriented choices.

Teens are at a developmental stage where craving independence is the norm and parents can, and should, reward responsible behavior with increased privileges.