Buckle Up, New Driver! Teaching Teens to Drive

It’s not an “accident” that auto insurance companies want to know the grades of a new, young driver. What does that indicate, statistically speaking? A sense of responsibility, and that translates to safety behind the wheel.

Let’s face it: this rite of passage is nerve-wracking for parents. Teens want their independence, but they are often not adequately prepared for the gravitas of getting behind the wheel. Even after six months of supervised driving, some 54% of adolescents make serious mistakes in judgment.1

As their parents, we are obligated to make sure they are ready and able way before they go to take the driver’s test. In addition, we need to monitor their progress after passing the test because many teens may have an accident in the window of months following the issuing of their driver licenses1.

If you are about to embark on the most terrifying ride of your life (as the passenger of your new teen driver, of course), relax! There are some things you can keep in mind that will make the ride much smoother and give them ample tools with which to navigate the road, both literally and figuratively.

  1. Know when they are ready. Teens are generally ready around the age of 16, but some need to wait. If they are showing the necessary signs of maturity, namely good judgment, then they are ready to drive.
  1. Try simulations first. There are plenty of apps out there that simulate driving. Encourage this kind of low-stakes practice first.
  2. Stay calm. No one can learn under pressure, or should be expected to. Explain everything carefully and keep your dynamic neutral. If a power struggle ensues, put the kibosh on that right away, even if it means finding someone else to teach your teen. The last thing either of you needs is an argument. Try to use directives rather than warnings; being proactive and positive can make a huge difference.
  1. 60 supervised hours behind the wheel. Most parents average about 40, but 60 is playing it safely.
  1. Teach defensive driving. So much of driving is about paying attention and predicting other drivers’ behaviors. Parents are great about teaching the mechanics of the vehicle, but often fall short when it comes to avoiding accidents, so hazard recognition is what will keep the kid and the car safe.
  1. Cellphone in the glove box. It’s a huge problem that drivers old and young are looking at their cell phones and not at the road. Model good driving behavior yourself by stashing the devices, and emphasizing complete concentration. It’s even a good idea to have your teen log several months behind the wheel before using a hands-free option of communicating, simply because it poses a distraction.
  1. Experiment with differing conditions. Parents often stick to the same routes and conditions, but don’t cover adverse weather, alternate or unfamiliar routes, crowded roads, and the nighttime scenario.

We want to promote confident and respectful driving on the road, so we need to give our adolescents plenty of time to learn these skills. Seek out local services to supplement their driving education, and ensure that they aren’t simply adequate drivers, but exceptional ones too.



  1. http://www.wsj.com/articles/better-ways-to-teach-teens-to-drive-1413915957


About Susie Almaneih

Susie Almaneih spent several years during her young adulthood teaching children dance at her church group, as well as other cultural-based activities. Susie now spends as much time as she can giving back to the families in her community. Over the years, this love for community has evolved into a deeper love for delivering positive and creative content and awareness to families of all ages.

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