Parent Awareness Responsibility Training

















Teaching your teen to be a responsible driver is a challenging task. Many parents don’t feel up to this challenge. Therefore, it’s important that you do your homework and are well prepared. You’ve coached them at T-Ball and soccer now it’s time to coach them in a skill that is truly “life changing”. Approach it positively, this should be a wonderful experience for you and your teen. This is a time to focus on driving…leave family issues at home.

Tips on being a good driving coach…

  • Set aside specific time to practice and let your teen know it’s a priority for you.
  • Stay calm, upbeat, and engaged.
  • Keep it interesting. Vary the routes, time of day, and driving conditions to give your teen confidence.
  • Make sure all instrument and safety adjustments are done before the car is put into motion. Turn off the CD or radio.
  • Make sure your teen has a learner’s permit, vehicle registration, and insurance information with him/her at all times when operating a vehicle.
  • Keep a log of hours spent behind the wheel and variety of conditions.
  • Plan the route and talk about it before hand.

Specific skills they will need to manage driving risks…

  • Maintaining proper following distance…use the 3 second rule for beginner drivers. Note when the car ahead of you passes a fixed point and count your time to reach that same point (“one thousand and one, one thousand and two…) that will give you the minimal safe space that should be between you and the other vehicle.
  • Develop seek and scanning abilities. Look far down the road to determine possible problems and keep your eyes scanning, don’t stare, check mirrors frequently. Many novice drivers focus only on the area immediately in front of them and don’t scan for possible hazards. Detecting hazards is particularly difficult for the teen driver…they need lots of practice with this skill!
  • Make sure other drivers know your intentions, use turn signals and don’t be afraid to use the horn.
  • Breaking smoothly and knowing how to properly use ABS (anti-lock breaking system) is a necessary skill. Have your teen practice hard breaking at 25-30 mph. They need to feel the sensation of the ABS system and know to apply steady firm pressure and not a pumping action.

They have a license...Now What?

Keep in mind that the first six months or 1,000 miles are the most dangerous for your new driver. Hopefully, you have given him/her at least 100 hours of supervised driving practice. But it doesn't stop there…your job is not done.

Setting clear limits is necessary to ensure your teen’s safety. Dr. Bruce Simons-Morton,EdD, chief of the prevention research branch of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) has some great advice. “They may not like the rules, but if they know what they are in advance, they’ll be more apt to accept them,

however begrudgingly”…they “don’t do well when things are capricious, unfair or ad hoc”. His research found that teens whose parents set clear, strict limits on their driving privileges for the first several months after licensure were at a much lower risk of crashes than teens whose parents did not set such limits. That is one reason The ART of Driving believes strongly in a written agreement.

During the initial licensing period (first month) rules need to be particularly strict. Absolutely no passengers except for a parent or other licensed adult. No driving after dark without an adult. Drive only on local roads in good weather unless an adult is present. One to six months gradually lessen restrictions if he/ she have proven abilities. Limit him to one passenger, early evening curfew, fair weather and no high-speed roads. After six months add time to the curfew, maintain the one-passenger limit, and begin to allow driving on higher-speed roads and in all but severe weather.

Set clear consequences for violating your rules. Driving privileges should be revoked for the following:

  • Driving after using drugs or alcohol or riding in a vehicle with a driver who has done so.
  • Not using a seat belt.
  • Any moving violation.
  • Any risky behavior such as speeding, tailgating or using a cell phone.

Are they really ready?

You know your child best. Just because most state laws permit 16 year olds to drive does not mean they all are ready….far from it. You decide if your teen is ready. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How does your teen handle school responsibilities? Does he/she do
    homework on time and get good grades?
  • Is your teen comfortable driving or is he/she nervous or overly confident?
  • How does your teen handle peer pressure…does he/she show good
  • Does your teen accept your rules and those of the state?

Control Access to a Vehicle…

It is not recommended that you provide your new driver with their own vehicle. This sends the message that driving is a right instead of a privilege. This should be something they earn. Let them demonstrate responsible behavior by using the family car when permitted, following the rules, and taking care of the vehicle (not returning it with an empty fuel tank). Give careful consideration to the type of vehicle you are permitting your teen to drive. Evaluate its safety features. SUV’s and cars with a sporty image are not good choices. Mid and full-size sedans with ABS, stability control features and side airbags provide added safety.

We strongly encourage parents not to depend on their new driver to take siblings to music lessons or sports practice. This can be very tempting; especially with the busy schedules we all keep. You may be glad to have an additional driver in the family, but for the safety of everyone concerned, it’s best to wait and take a gradual approach. Don’t rush it!