Tips for Parents of New Drivers
Pride. Nostalgia. Fear. Anxiety.
These are emotions to be expected as a parent of a newly-licensed teenage driver who will be hitting the road on their own. You’re naturally proud to watch your child reach this important milestone, and maybe you even feel a bit of nostalgia when remembering your days as a teenager yourself. And then of course there’s the fear and anxiety that sets in – and rightfully so. There are many risks associated with teen driving, and the statistics can be scary. According to the CDC, teen drivers are 3 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash. So before you hand over a set of keys to the family car, here are some tips to help you adjust to the idea of your “baby” behind the wheel and make sure they are as safe as possible.
- Understand state laws. Many states already have specific restrictions for a graduated license program, including Texas. In Texas, for example, no more than one passenger under the age of 21 is allowed in the car, and novice drivers are not permitted to drive between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. Full driving privileges are instated at the age of 18. Texas also has a zero tolerance policy for drugs and alcohol for any driver less than 21 years of age, and the consequences are very severe. Furthermore, not only is wearing a seatbelt the law, but it saves lives: 56% of teenagers involved in fatal car crashes were not wearing a seatbelt. Make sure both you and your teenager understand the full extent of the law and the potential ramifications if they are broken.
- Cell phones cause accidents when driving. Texas prohibits the use of cell phones while driving for any driver under the age of 18, and some municipalities have even stricter laws about cell phone use for all drivers. Talk to your teenager about how serious the consequences of texting or talking while driving can be. Consider having a rule that cell phones must be placed in the back seat to ensure they will not be a temptation while driving. There are several videos on the Internet that you can watch together to help drive that point home, including a short eight-minute documentary that can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4xXnsorfms
- Set a good example. Some of the laws stated above are difficult to enforce since many are considered a secondary offense. It will be up to you to set a good example and abide by the law. The “do as I say not as I do” approach to driving does not work well when trying to teach young drivers good habits. Safety should always be your top priority, and it is important as a parent to follow both state laws and household rules that encourage safe driving.
- Encourage good grades. A high GPA may get you a break on your teenager’s insurance rate, depending on what company you use. And now that you have another (and more expensive) driver to add on to your insurance, this may be a good time to shop around.
- Establish clear expectations and ground rules to avoid conflict. Are there limitations to when, where, and with whom your teenager may drive? Who will pay for gas and insurance? What will happen if there is an accident or a ticket issued? If rules and/or laws are broken, what are the consequences at home? Having these discussions before your teenager is given the keys the car will help make sure you are all on the same page.
- Remember that your teenager is, well, a teenager. Mistakes will be likely be made, but hopefully with your guidance, your new driver will have taken every precaution possible.
Even with the utmost precaution, however, accidents can still happen – especially when someone else is not following the law or is acting recklessly. In the event of an unfortunate accident, remember that the qualified and experienced attorneys at Hossley & Embry are only a phone call away at (866) 522-9265.
Teen drivers: Get the facts. (2015). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/teen_drivers/teendrivers_factsheet.html
Graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws. (2015). Governor’s Highway Safety Association. Retrieved from http://www.ghsa.org/html/stateinfo/laws/license_laws.html
Teen drivers. (2011). Texas Department of Public Safety. Retrieved from http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/DriverLicense/teendriver.htm