Is Your Teen Ready to Drive Alone?

Before teens get a learner’s permit, parents should talk with them about the various stages of licensure and gauge whether or not they are ready to drive. Once teens begin practice driving, parents should provide plenty of behind-the-wheel supervision. Parents also need to also explain that the on road driving test is not a given and that maturity and skill must be demonstrated before giving their teens permission to take it.

Even if teens have completed the minimum state-required practice hours to acquire an intermediate license, this doesn’t mean that they are ready to drive alone. Parents and teens need to honestly assess whether it’s time to safely take the wheel alone or to continue with adult-supervised practice for a longer period of time. 

When parents think their teens are not ready to drive alone, they need to be clear yet encouraging. Say that the answer isn’t “no.” It’s “not yet.” Explain that it’s a decision for safety, not control.  Discuss what skills need to be worked on and how they will work together to achieve them. For specific guidance in supervising drives to achieve certain goals, access the TeenDrivingPlan Practice Guide on this website, an interactive resource designed to help parents effectively supervise their teens' driving practice. 

Even when parents are confident their teens are ready to drive alone, they need to continue to monitor their driving activities. Parents should ride along as a passenger to support safe driving behaviors and provide guidance in difficult driving situations like in heavy city traffic and in construction zones. Developing driving competence takes time. Parents need to stress that they are always around to answer questions and to help in any way.

Teen Driver Source provides more tips on how to navigate the Intermediate License Period.