The week of October 20 – 26 is National Teen Driver Safety Week. Each year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) promotes this campaign across the country in order to help young drivers become safe drivers. The campaign highlights the conversations that parents should have with their teens about driving before and during the teen’s first year of driving. According to NHTSA, “This week – and every week, parents should have conversations with their teens about the important rules they need to follow to stay safe behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. These rules address the greatest dangers for teen drivers: alcohol, inconsistent or no seat belt use, distracted and drowsy driving, speeding, and number of passengers.”
Teen drivers often encounter driving safety issues that more experienced drivers handle with ease. Lack of maturity and lack of skills combined with the inexperience result in incidences of distracted driving, speeding, and crashes.
The three-stage graduated driver licensing (GDL) system was designed to help new drivers gain low-risk driving experience so that by the time they obtain their driver’s license, they are more prepared for the road. The GDL consists of the following 3 phases:
- Learner’s Permit
- Intermediate (Provisional) License
- Full Licensure
In order to obtain a full license in Florida, prospective drivers must have completed 50 hours of driving with a parent (or other legal guardian or responsible adult over 21.) For more information on the GDL system in Florida, click here.
As a parent, there are many things you can do to help your teen become a better driver and more prepared to drive independently. Here are a few key recommendations from NHTSA:
Establish ground rules – Create a parent-teen driving contract and enforce rules and consequences
- Put clear rules in place about your expectations and the law
- Mandate seat belt use
- Limit driving at night
- Discuss the dangers of alcohol or drug use and driving
- Stay involved with your teen as they learn how to drive
Reduce Distractions – Teens are more likely to engage in risky behaviors when they have one or more other teens in the vehicle
- Limit number of passengers
- Create a location for all electronic devices (and phones) to be stored when driving
- Put consequences in place when your teen doesn’t follow the rules
Be a good role model for your teen – Teens learn from your habits and behaviors
- Drive safely
- Never use your phone or electronic devices while driving
- Do not speed!
- Never drink and drive
Create driving time so your teen can practice with you – Teens need time to practice what they learn in driving classes
- Enforce driving laws
- Teach your teen and let them practice
Use this week to start talking about safe driving with your teen, even before he or she starts driver training. Consistent messaging and being a good role model is critical as your teen enters the adolescence phase.
For more great information on how to talk to your teen about driving safety, visit the NHTSA site here.
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