After The License
Teaching your teen to be safe doesn’t end when the driving test is passed and the probationary or junior license granted. It’s important to continue to work with your child to set limits and to gradually introduce new privileges, especially during the first 6 to 12 months after licensure when crash risk is highest. This can be difficult, since independence is a teen’s main goal. Remember, it’s normal to fight you on this. Be patient and consistent. Explain that these rules are in place for safety and because you care.
Besides following Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL), parents can directly affect their teen’s crash risk by controlling the keys and limiting passengers for the first year of independent driving.
Controlling the Keys
Limiting how early and how much teens drive is one way parents can impact a major crash factor. Teens with easy access to the keys (they own the car or consider themselves “the main driver”) are more than twice as likely to crash as teens who share a car with family members. They’re also more likely to speed and use cell phones while driving, known factors to increase crash risk. Sharing the family car naturally leads to closer monitoring. When teens are not the main driver of a car, they have to ask to use it. This gives parents the opportunity to review house rules, help with directions and logistics, and remind them again to BUCKLE UP!
Teens need to keep their focus on the road. Distractions are a major cause of crashes for inexperienced drivers, and passenger distractions are particularly dangerous. In fact, teen drivers’ fatal crash risk increases by three to five times if there are two or more passengers in the car. Passengers ages 12 and older also are more likely to die in crashes if riding with a new teen driver. Parents should set these initial limits regarding passengers: