What Adults Need To Know About Teen Drivers

April 12, 2013

Crashes are the #1 Killer of Teens

Thank you to the Allstate Foundation and National Safety Council for sponsoring this post. Check out Drive it Home, a website by and for parents, dedicated to keeping our teen drivers safe. 

On Thursday, I had the opportunity to attend Drive it Home and I learned a lot, I'm excited to share with you the things I learned that turned an anticipated night of lecture (assumed by me, with no research about the event) into one to remember.  Click here to find a Drive it Home event near you. It's a comical presentation with a lot of educational information.


Parents want Zombies; Teen Drivers want Freedom

Know-it-all parents (all of us) want to lecture their teens, while the aspiring teen drivers sit on the couch, expressionless, absorbing all of the wise parent's knowledge.

50% of all teens will be in a crash before they graduate high school

I lost 2 friends, and I was in 3 accidents.

Why Teen Drivers Don't Listen

 "I just have to check this email for work really fast, but if I ever catch you on your phone while you're driving..." How do you expect your teen driver to take you seriously when you're doing everything you're telling them not to?

What is your parenting style and is it effective? 

 "How are kids supposed to learn about gravity if they don't experience it themselves? Uninvolved 

"Just take my ATM card and use it when you need it, take my ID, too, in case the gas station needs it with my card." Permissive

"I told you to get straight As this year. How do you expect me to help you with your homework when the directions are clear and right in front of you?" Authoritarian 

"I want to let you have the freedom you earn, but when safety is an issue you need to follow the rules I set." Authoritative 

Authoritative parents set boundaries, give their teen drivers the chance to prove they can be trusted, resulting in the parents' trust and a rule-abiding teen. Tell the teen driver to do something and expect them to do it. Let the teen earn their freedom, let them show you they can be trusted. 

Don't Freak Out on Teen Drivers 

Which one would you react positively to? "Good job entering the highway, next time, make sure you're accelerating from the entrance ramp to the lane entering traffic."  or "What the hell are you doing? Open the window, I need air. (while hanging onto the door handle) Don't drive so close to the gravel truck, what are you doing?"

It takes one work week for a teen driver to get a license  

One week of practice, not one week of waiting to receive the license in the mail. Nail technicians must complete 400 hours of practice and education before they're able to do your nails. Teen drivers are only required to practice for 45 hours.

Speeding isn't the problem, it’s not knowing how to handle the speed

Take your teen drivers driving at night, in the rain, around curves and behind gravel trucks, they won't know until they experience it and if you're there to coach them, they'll know how to handle the situation the next time they are alone.

In Virginia, 68% of parents are looking for resources to help them manage their teen’s driving experience. 

Brainstorm house rules about driving, write them down and sign it or use this parent teen agreement from driveithome.org . Also at driveithome.org, parents can sign up to receive weekly driving practice tips and suggestions via e-mail, and print, discuss and sign a Parent-Teen Driving Agreement.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


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