As your teen returns to school, add his or her driving habits to the list of things you need to review. Even though you already are vigilant about your teen’s safety behind the wheel, discussing the state’s Graduated Driver Licensing program will help both you and your teen avoid violating restrictions without even realizing it.
Sometimes parents give little thought to things that seem routine, such as allowing teens to travel to and from school with friends, leave after-school activities late in the evening or drive to school early in the morning for before-school commitments. There are significant risks associated with all of these practices, and your state’s GDL programs have been designed to help reduce those risks.
Here are some things to review:
- What time does your teen need to be off the roads? – The National Safety Council recommends all teens be off the roads between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., as their crash rate is very high at night and in the early morning hours. Consider arranging alternative transportation for your teen if he or she needs to be out during these hours. All states have a nighttime driving restriction for teen drivers. Find your state’s here.
- What is your state’s passenger restriction? – Most states have a passenger restriction for new drivers. NSC recommends intermediate license holders never carry more than one passenger – a zero-passenger rule is better. A teen driver’s crash risk increases as much as 307 percent with three or more teen passengers. Siblings should not be exceptions to the rule, either. Find your state’s passenger restrictions here.
Allowing your teen to carpool with friends seems practical, but it is very dangerous. Make sure teens drive only with you, another experienced adult or alone to avoid raising their crash risk.
Returning to school is a stressful time for both you and your teen. Making sure your teen clearly understands GDL is one way to help ensure the new school year begins smoothly and safely.