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How Do I Talk to My Teen About Driver Responsibility and Safety?

Written by | Updated September 17, 2020

Teen driving safety is a major concern for every parent. Crashes are, tragically the leading cause of deaths for teens. And distracted driving is a major contributor.1

It’s important to talk to your teen about driving safely. Here are some tips on how to talk to them and how you can help keep them safe while still allowing freedom.

  1. Explain the responsibility comes with a driver’s license: Not only are they responsible for their own safety, but they are responsible for the safety of their passengers, other drivers on the road, pedestrians and cyclists, and the physical condition of the car as well.
  2. Learn the dangers: Driving is dangerous. Don’t sugarcoat this fact for your teen. They should understand that each time they get into a car, they are taking lives into their hands. Driving can be a lot of fun, and the freedom is often exhilarating for a teenager, but it is still serious business. Talk about distracted driving and what that means, including talking on the phone or texting, and wearing headphones.
  3. Teach that driving is a privilege: Let your teen know that driving is not a right, it’s a privilege. It can be revoked at any time. Learn the laws for teen drivers together so that you can set expectations and ground rules for safe behavior, and hold them to those expectations.
  4. Set a good example: If you want your kids off their phones while they drive, stay off yours. If you want them wearing their seat belt, wear yours. They will follow your lead, especially when things are new and they don’t feel comfortable with driving.
  5. Offer them safe driving tips: Teach them how to operate the functions of the car, like lights, blinkers, and windshield wipers. Teach them how to drive defensively and scan for potential threats, like erratic drivers or debris in the road. And make sure to go over winter driving techniques if you live somewhere with cold weather. These small things that are second nature to you are new to them, and they may not think about it until it’s too late.
  6. Allow them plenty of practice: Even if your teen already has their license, it can be a good idea to limit driving to times when you are in the car. This allows them a coaching opportunity from someone who’s been doing it for a long time. Driving becomes second nature to us, but for a 16-year-old, it can be a scary, intimidating thing. Practice is important so that they feel as comfortable as possible on the road by themselves.

As you’re working with your teen to better understand driving safety, consult our Car Safety Guide resource to ensure you cover as many elements of safe driving as possible.

Sources

  1. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Teen Driving.” Accessed September 17, 2020.