Our teens think they know everything about driving as soon as they get their licenses. But all it takes is one ride with them to realize teens are not prepared to handle certain driving situations.
The safest way for teens to gain experience is for you – their parents – to ride with them frequently to make sure teens are doing things correctly. Think about it this way: if you don’t spend at least 50 hours driving with your teen, your teen probably is not a safe driver.
It’s best to use 50 hours as the minimum amount of time you should spend supervising your teen’s driving, too. As our teens are learning how to drive, many states require a minimum number of practice hours before teens can get their restricted licenses to drive unsupervised. Regardless of whether practice hours are required – or how many hours are required – teens are not finished learning how to be safe drivers when they exit the DMV and can drive by themselves. The safest way for teens to continue learning is to keep riding with them for a full year after they get their licenses – after the required (or recommended) 50 practice hours are finished. During the first 50 hours, teens learn the skills they need to be safe drivers. Afterward, it’s up to us as their parents to make sure our teens are putting those skills to use.
Remember – it’s not whether our teens are “good kids” or “responsible” behind the wheel. Regardless of behavior, all teens are inexperienced and all teens are subject to the same risks. What matters most is their inexperience.Teens are new drivers.
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute in April 2011 identified teen drivers’ most common errors that lead to crashes. Three out of four serious teen driver crashes are due to inexperience – not scanning the roadway, following too closely or losing control. The three most common errors, accounting for about half of these crashes, are:
1. Lack of scanning the roadway
2. Driving too fast for conditions
3. Distraction by something inside or outside the vehicle
Make sure your teen has lots of practice behind the wheel – the more practice, the better. Start off driving during the daytime, then gradually add practice at night and bad weather. Take a look at these specific tips from The Oregon Parent Guide to Teen Driving.
Visit DriveitHOME.org for more tips on how to help your teens become the best drivers they can be.