Helping Your Teen Become a Safe Driver

As a parent, you ultimately want your teen to be well-trained and as safe as possible when behind the wheel or as a passenger in someone else’s vehicle.  Learning how to physically handle a vehicle is just one part of becoming a safe driver. It’s important that parents play an active role in helping their teen develop good decision making skills as well as good vehicle handling skills.

Before Your Teen is Driving:

  • Your children are watching you.  Be a positive role model when you’re behind the wheel.  Your teen is more likely to be a calm and courteous driver, wear a seatbelt, and follow the rules of the road if they see you do the same.
  • Discuss the risks and responsibilities of driving with your child from a young age and keep talking to your teen before, during, and after the licensing process.
  • Empower your teen.  Being a passenger in another teen’s car can put your teen at risk.  Peer pressure among teens can be both positive and negative. Make sure your teen knows it’s okay to say something if a friend’s driving makes them uncomfortable.  Although you can’t be with your teen at all times, you can say how important it is that your teen speaks up in dangerous situations.

During the Instruction Permit Phase:

  • Don’t rush the training process!  Just because a teen has a permit, it doesn’t mean they’re ready for every driving situation or condition.  Nothing can replace the many hours of supervised driving experience they need with you while learning how to handle most of the challenges they will eventually encounter independently.
  • Understand Minnesota’s graduated driver licensing laws and discuss them with your teen. Using these laws as a minimum standard, establish your own family rules for when, where, how, and with whom your teen may drive.  Create a Parent-Teen Driving Contact. It’s important that you set reasonable rules and limits that minimize risks, and that you follow through with consequences when necessary.

When Your Teen is Licensed:

  • Make decisions with your teen’s safety as your highest priority!  Even after receiving their license, teens are not prepared to drive on their own in every situation.  Only you can decide when your teen is ready to drive without adult supervision.
  • When your teen demonstrates an ability to drive safely, adhere to laws, and follow your family rules, you can consider adding additional driving privileges.  Privileges should still be based on limiting their exposure to risks. If problems arise after additional privileges are granted, go back to using the rules that were in place before.