For the new driver in your family, a set of car keys means freedom. But to you as a parent it can mean extra worries and sleepless nights. So, what can you do? You play an important role in teen driving safety. Clearly defining your expectations, instilling the rules of the road and creating a teenager driving contract can go a long way toward ensuring your teens stay safe behind the wheel. Before you toss your young driver the keys, be sure to go over these rules for teen drivers.
7 Restrictions for New Drivers That Make Sense
Having regular conversations about safety, practicing driving together and leading by example go a long way in ensuring your teen makes smart decisions when they get behind the wheel.
But there’s another simple step you can take to get on the same page about your family’s rules of the road. Create a parent-teen driving agreement that puts your rules in writing to clearly set expectations and limits. Work with your teen to outline hazards to avoid and consequences for breaking rules. Keep it on the fridge and update it as your teen gains experience and more driving privileges. Here’s what to include.
1. No Phones While Driving
This is a big one. While there are many distractions to avoid while driving, cell phones are a major offender. Talk with your teen about putting their phone out of sight while driving. Setting the do not disturb feature while driving can help eliminate the temptation to text and drive or even answer a call, but powering off while driving is the best way for new drivers to avoid distraction altogether.
2. Buckle Up
Research shows that teenage drivers are the least likely age group to wear their seat belts. Wearing a seatbelt is one of the most important car rules for teenage drivers. Remind your teen that wearing their seatbelt is not only the law (they can get a ticket for not wearing it) but buckling up can be a lifesaving habit.
3. No Drugs or Alcohol
This is an obvious rule, but it’s important to have a thorough discussion on this topic with your young driver. It’s never okay to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or to get in the car with someone who is.
4. Limit Passengers
Your state may have limits on the number of passengers your teen can have in the car, but even if it doesn’t, let your teen know that having too many people in the car will lead to distractions. One or two friends may be okay, but perhaps you don’t want your teen to drive with any more people than that without a parent or adult driver in the car. Set clear passenger restrictions for your new teenage driver early on and adjust as they gain driving experience.
5. Obey Driving Laws
Allow no exceptions here. Speed limits, coming to a complete stop, using turn signals, etc., are not recommendations. New drivers must abide by these laws because tickets, crashes and suspended or revoked driving privileges will take them back to square one.
6. Avoid Low-Visibility Conditions
For a young driver, less than ideal driving conditions can make a big difference. Driving in the dark or in inclement weather can present safety concerns with limited visibility. Be sure new drivers take the right safety precautions in low-visibility conditions. Setting rules, for a new driver especially, will keep your teen from encountering a hazardous situation they aren’t prepared for. Talk with your teen about which weather conditions are okay to drive in and which aren’t.
7. No Late-Night Driving
Every parent knows that nothing good happens after midnight, which is why a curfew for new drivers is an important part of staying safe. Driving at night can be dangerous for both experienced and novice drivers, as visibility is lower and other drivers could be sleepy or under the influence. For this reason, many states place restrictions on teenagers driving between 12:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. without a parent or guardian in the vehicle.
Your young driver’s safety is your top priority. Talk with your local Farm Bureau agent about our Young Driver Safety Program, which can offer your teen the chance to build skill and confidence behind the wheel. Your agent can discuss details with you and help ensure you and your teen have the right auto insurance coverage.