Safe Driving Tips For Teens

Published on 04/24/2023 by Monica Burneikis

Teenagers rarely understand the serious risks and significant responsibility that comes with being a driver. Unfortunately, a teenager’s sense of invincibility makes it tough to keep teen drivers (aged 15 - 18) focused on safe driving.

The more we can do to educate teens, ensure they have earned the right to drive before handing them the keys, and keep them aware of safe driving tips, the safer our teens, and our communities, will be.

5 Tips For Safer Teen Drivers

As a personal injury lawyer, I am painfully aware of the following teen driving statistics:

  • In 2020, approximately 2,800 teens in the United States ages 13–19 were killed, and about 227,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes
  • Around 8 teenagers die every day in car accidents
  • Teen drivers have a fatal crash rate almost three times as high as drivers aged 20 and older per mile driven
  • Data indicates the crash rate per mile driven is about 1.5 times as high for 16-year-old drivers than it is for 18–19-year-old drivers

The more adults emphasize the importance of safe driving habits with their teenagers, the safer the roads are for everyone, including our own teenage children.

Create a driving contract: Allow children to earn the right to drive 

It seems a majority of people believe that the minute a child turns 16, they should be handed the keys to the family car. Just because a teenager has turned 16, they should not be automatically entitled to get their driver’s license. Driving is a privilege - one that should only be granted to teenagers and young adults who have proven they are responsible, understand their role in keeping themselves and others safe, know and agree to abide by the rules of the road, and respect a parent or guardian's boundaries with respect to driving.

If your teen is not mature or responsible enough to drive, it is your duty as a parent to not let them behind the wheel. In fact, doing so could subject you to a negligent entrustment lawsuit.

It is important for you to have a conversation with your teen about what the household expectations are before they become licensed drivers. For example, do you know why insurance companies provide good student discounts? Because statistics show that students who are responsible about their school work tend to have lower accident rates. 

Common parent guidelines around driving may include things like:

  • Having a specific GPA
  • Earning money to pay for a portion of gas/insurance
  • Following other household rules and willingly taking accountability when rules are broken
  • Having an agreement for the child to pay for any moving violations (a.k.a., “tickets”) received and any ensuing insurance hikes

Creating a family driving contract is a wonderful tool to help outline your expectations of your teen driver and communicate exactly what teens must achieve before getting their license. This contract should provide clear guidelines about what is allowed, what is not allowed, and what consequences will follow if the driving contract is violated.

Install a parenting app that governs driving

Several apps out there help parents monitor and track teenagers while they are on the road. Examples include Life360 and FamiSafe. These apps are helpful because they let you know where the car is, how fast it is traveling, and other key facts essential to ensuring your child is safe and adhering to the rules of the road (and the family driving contract). The apps also include safety features that detect accidents and call emergency contacts in the event of a crash.

Some car manufacturers also offer tracking/speed monitoring technology, which is worth looking into as this technology often cannot be overridden by sneaky teens and technology hacks.

Many teenagers outwardly rebel against vehicle/location tracking but secretly celebrate being subjected to this monitoring. When teenagers know their parents are keeping tabs, it is much easier to say “no” to peers who are putting pressure on them to do things they are not supposed to do.

Create rules, boundaries & consequences around essential rules

There should be hardline, non-negotiable rules that must be adhered to in order for your teen to access your, or their, car. This includes things like:

  • Seatbelts must be worn by all parties in the car at all times when the car is in motion
  • No using cell phones while driving (distracted driving is a leading cause of teen car accidents)
  • Always obeying speed limits - even on freeways
  • Only driving on a few identified routes to start (school, work, one close friend’s home), and expanding that route with experience
  • Limiting driving to daylight hours for the first three to six months
  • Limiting how many passengers are allowed (or who the passengers can be) in order to keep teen drivers focused on the road
  • Educating your teen about the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and ensuring they are aware that doing so will result in an immediate loss of driving privileges

Outlining clear consequences for breaking these rules (and increasing the severity with repeat violations) gives you something solid to lean on so there is no room for argument when you need to confiscate the keys.

New road conditions? Hop into the passenger seat to offer safe driving tips

Sometimes parents forget that a teen who got their license in late spring or early summer does not have experience driving in winter weather conditions. For the first year your child has their license, be mindful of any driving conditions or experiences that are new to them. This is a good time to sit in the passenger seat and let them practice with supervision. The same holds true for night driving, longer driving trips, or busier-than-normal traffic conditions.

Having you there to supervise and provide calm, experienced recommendations will help keep your teen alert and more able to meet unpredictable scenarios when they are on their own.

Practice road safety tips for breakdowns

Talking about what to do during a breakdown or after an accident is one thing; physically going through the motions is another. We recommend teaching teens how to change their own tire and making sure they understand the vehicle’s safety features, where the first aid or emergency roadside kit lives in the car, and which roadside assistance company to contact in an emergency.

The Burneikis Law Team Knows Safe Driving Tips For Teens Saves Lives

Focusing on safe driving tips saves lives and minimizes the number of car accidents involving teen drivers. Do you have a teen driver who was recently involved in an accident? Contact us. We will do all we can to support you and your family through this process.

Monica Burneikis - Oakland Personal Injury Attorney
Monica Burneikis has been an accident and personal injury lawyer for over 15 years. She knows what it takes to fight with insurance companies in order to obtain maximum compensation for injury victims and their families.
Contact Burneikis Law