Once your teen gets their license, they can finally drive on their own. But cautious parents will wonder: how can I help keep my teen safe when I’m not in the vehicle?
You may not be in the car with them to offer assistance and advice, but you can still set limits and encourage safe driving behavior. Here are four things your teen driver should keep in mind before they get behind the wheel without you.
1. Driving with their peers is unsafe. Just one additional teen passenger increases your teen's crash risk by 44%. Once they have their license your teen will want to provide rides for friends, but this should be avoided for at least six months after they obtain their license.
2. Teens should avoid driving late at night, or in particularly bad weather. These are crucial scenarios for your teen driver to gain practice in, but until they have mastered driving on their own it is best for you to be there with them in poor conditions. Learning to drive alone is difficult enough, but keeping it to daylight hours will help your teen build their skills safely.
3. Never use a cell phone while driving. From the very first time your teen gets behind the wheel, they should know that operating a cell phone, even hands-free, is unacceptable. This habit must continue whether or not you are in the car with them, otherwise they greatly increase their risk of a crash.
4. Have a plan for emergencies. Talk to your teen about who to call for help and what to do in a driving emergency. Whether it's an empty gas tank, a flat tire or a fender bender, your teen driver should know who to call first and what steps to take until help arrives, even if it's just to pull their car safely to the side of the road.
Nothing will help your teen driver gain confidence and skills faster than actually driving, but whether you are with them in the car or not, their safety should always come first.