Things Your Teen Needs to Know Before Driving Solo

It's a terrifying time for parents: your teen has just obtained his or her learner's permit and is ready to get behind the wheel. You have a narrow window of time in which to teach your children a foundation of safe driving behaviors before they earn their license and head off on their own. Here are some important lessons to impart to your teen driver.

1. Wear your seat belt. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seat belts have a dramatic effect on whether someone survives an automobile accident. From 2006 to 2010, over 69,000 lives were saved in the United States by seat belt use. Wear your own seatbelt to set a good example, and stress the importance of seatbelt use to your teen driver.

2. Don't drive drunk -- or drowsy. Nearly a third of auto accident fatalities are alcohol-related, and studies have shown that about one in five car accidents involve fatigued drivers who doze off behind the wheel. Don't let your child become a statistic. He or she may try to drive home late at night or after a party to avoid getting in trouble. Stress that while drinking is obviously not okay, you'd rather your teen call you for a late night ride home than receive a much more heartbreaking phone call. Teens are also subject to a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking -- while adults are legally allowed to drive with a small amount of alcohol in their bodies, a teen who gets pulled over and has consumed any amount of alcohol is immediately subject to punitive measures. Avoid the heartbreak and the hassle -- have your teen call you for a ride.

3. Don't speed. Speeding increases the risk of getting into an accident, and the risk is dramatically increased at high speeds. Even if you do shave a minute or two off your trip, it doesn't outweigh the risks involved with speeding. Set a good example for your teen driver by leaving earlier and going the speed limit.

4. Avoid distractions. Texting while driving is illegal in many states, and some have even banned the use of handheld cell phones while driving. But even if your teen follows those rules, things like eating, drinking, putting on makeup, adjusting the radio, and/or interacting with passengers can still be distracting. Some states limit the number of passengers new drivers can have in the car with them in order to minimize distractions, and with good reason: according to NHTSA data, most of the people killed in crashes involving drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 are the drivers themselves or passengers in the same age group. Set a good example by avoiding distracted driving yourself, and set ground rules with your teen.

5. Teach them the finer points of driving. In driver's education courses, your teen may not have been fully paying attention or may not have had many opportunities to practice driving in different situations. Educate him or her on concepts like:

  • Leaving adequate braking distance
  • Scanning the road ahead rather than just focusing on what is directly in front of the car
  • Adjusting driving techniques to different weather and road conditions
  • Avoiding following the car ahead too closely
  • Knowing when to yield right-of-way
  • Staying out of other drivers' blind spots
  • Generally assuming that every other driver will do something stupid or dangerous


You'll probably identify additional tips and lessons that are unique to your individual teen, but these tips provide a starting point for you to teach your teens how to be safe drivers. Remember that having open communication and setting a good example are some of the most important things you can do to help him or her get ready for the road.

At Wynne Volvo, we value safety. Please talk to your teens about safe driving, and set a good example by following these tips yourself. Stop by our Volvo New Car Dealership in Hampton to find new Volvo cars with advanced safety features (we also have a wide used cars inventory). Our customers from Hampton, Newport News, and other cities of Hampton Roads choose Wynne Volvo to buy new and reliable cars for their teens and themselves. Visit us online at http://www.wynnevolvo.com or stop by our Volvo Dealership in Hampton

By Brian Wynne

Categories: News
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