5 Simple Road Rules to keep your teen driver safe

Getting their driver’s license is a rite of passage for many teens, but, understandably, handing over the car keys can bring on anxiety for parents. However, it can also be a positive and memorable occasion.

The single best thing parents can do to prepare teens to drive on their own is to practice with them, says John Ulczycki, group vice president at the National Safety Council.

“If you think about driving as a learning curve, the more practice kids get driving, the faster they move across that learning curve and the more confidence they get,” Ulczycki says.

Here are five more simple rules that will help protect your teen on the road—and give you peace-of-mind.

Keep the invite list short
Statistically, teenagers are less likely to crash when they’re driving alone or with an adult, so consider setting limits on when and how often your child can ride with or transport other teenagers.

“With each additional passenger that you add to a car, you are significantly increasing your crash risk,” Ulczycki says.

For instance, you might wait until your teen has been driving for at least six months before giving permission to drive and ride with friends. Teenagers can also limit distractions by regulating noise in the car (e.g., conversations, music) and keeping their eyes focused solely on the road.

Drive during the day
At night, it’s harder to see, as well as judge distance and speed. Spend a lot of time practicing nighttime driving with your teen, and just like with the last tip, consider waiting until your teen has more experience driving—at night and during the day—before giving permission to drive at night.

Limit technology
A decade ago, this tip may have been something like, “Don’t fiddle with the radio while driving.” But with the explosion of mobile technology, there are a slew of new distractions to teen drivers and passengers.

Despite laws banning texting while driving, research shows that the practice is still widespread. Nearly 60 percent of high school seniors and more than 40 percent of high school juniors reported that they’ve texted or sent emails while driving, according to an anonymous national survey released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Remind your teen not to use mobile devices in the car and to pull over if they believe it’s important to make a call or send a text.

Buckle up
Generally, seat belt use has steadily increased since the early 90s, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. However, teens are less likely to buckle up, both while driving and as passengers, than the rest of the population. You can help your teen understand the importance of seat belts by buckling up every time you drive or ride in a car.

Don’t drink
Fewer teens are drinking today (40 percent) than in 1980 (72 percent), according to the Monitoring the Future study. However, that may not stop some teens from operating a vehicle while intoxicated— or riding with someone who is. Drinking and driving is not only illegal, it’s unsafe. Consider helping your teen come up with a response she’s comfortable giving to turn down alcohol, and insist that she never get into a vehicle with anyone who’s been drinking