For a teenager, getting a driver’s license marks a rite of passage into adulthood. For parents, this “leap towards independence” often brings fear, anxiety, and bittersweet emotions. Every year four million new teen drivers will get their driver’s license. Two million of them will be involved in an accident before they turn twenty!
So, what can parents do to help their teen be better prepared to drive?
- Talk with your teen often and early about the enormous responsibility that comes with getting behind the wheel… but try not to lecture. Teens will tune out quickly if they feel you are talking AT them and not TO them. Look for opportunities to approach concerns in a way that will lead to productive conversations.
- Point out situations as you ride together that allow your teen to see how easy it is to make a mistake while driving. For instance, you might say, “Did you see how fast that other car was going? They could hurt or kill someone driving so recklessly!”
- If driver’s education classes are available, enroll your teen. Although this is not a guarantee your child will not be involved in an accident, he will learn proper driving techniques, the laws in your state, and will be provided supervised practice with a professional. In most states it also means a lower insurance rate!
- Make good use of the time once they receive their permit. Let them drive as much as possible while they are with you. This may be anxiety-producing for you, however, practice is essential and very beneficial!
- Try not to be overly critical of your teen’s driving skills. Remember, they are beginners. Learning never takes place during criticism! Patience is the key!
- Be an example! If you expect your teen to drive safely and with consideration you must model these behaviors. Don’t drive while doing other things. Pull over to use your cell phone, adjust the radio before you pull out, and don’t eat while driving. Your teen needs to see you devote your complete attention to driving.
- Hold off purchasing your teen a new sports car. Statistics prove sportier model vehicles are involved in more accidents than the family sedan.
- Make sure the car your teen drives is safe and loaded with features such as airbags and anti-lock brakes.
Alabama has several limitations on teen drivers:
- Drivers who are 1 5 years old must be accompanied by a parent, guardian, or another driver 21 years of age or older. He/she must occupy the front seat next to the driver.
- Drivers who are 16 and 17 years old who’ve had their license less than six months cannot operate a vehicle between midnight and 6 a.m. unless they are accompanied by a licensed adult, are going to/from work, school or a religious sponsored event, or driving for an emergency.
- There should be no more than four occupants in the vehicle, excluding the supervising parent. Lor example, the teen driver can transport three friends and his/her parent.
- Violations will result in an extension of the restrictions by six months or until the driver reaches 18 years of age.