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What can parents do?

The following tips for parents of teen drivers were culled from numerous resources: Web sites, interviews of experts and publications:

  • Lengthy, adult-supervised experience is crucial. Consider extending your teen's learner's permit period to nine months--certainly longer than Illinois' current minimum of three months--and use that time for supervised driving in a variety of conditions.

  • Reduce risks by limiting the number of passengers under 21; severely restricting driving after dark, particularly after 9 p.m.; and forbidding the use of cell phones while driving.

  • Expect the teen driver to make mistakes. Use those mistakes to reinforce safe driving techniques in a positive, clear coach/teacher role.

  • Avoid lecturing. Be alert to opportunities for discussion. Ask questions to stimulate self-discovery, and listen to your teens' responses. Discuss what's happening in his or her driver training course. Use every opportunity, including trips in the family car, to reinforce learning.

  • Know your teenager's friends and their driving habits. Discourage your teenager from loaning a vehicle to friends and from "joyriding."

  • Talk to parents of your teens' closest friends about the limitations and expectations you've imposed.

  • Insist that your teen controls speed. Make sure your young driver understands that speed is the most common factor in teen crashes.

  • Teach the teen driver to search the "big picture" in front, around and behind the car, and to expect the unexpected when driving.

  • Practice left-hand turns and then practice them some more. Teens might consider avoiding left turns at intersections without signals for the first few months.

  • Discuss the issues involved in a parent-teen driving agreement and then write out a pact explicitly, including consequences, or use one of the numerous versions available online. (See example on facing page.)

  • Set a proper example. Always wear a seat belt and insist they do, also.

  • Don't rush to get their drivers license.

  • When choosing a car for a teen, avoid SUVs (they are prone to flipping), small cars (the driver death rate of the smallest cars is about twice that of the largest passenger vehicles), sports cars (obvious, right?), and cars made prior to about 1998, when front and passenger airbags were mandated. The Allstate Foundation and other organizations contend the safest cars for teen drivers are relatively late model, midsize or larger passenger vehicles.

    Download a contract to sign with your teen
  • Allstate
  • Safety Council
  • The AAA

    Parental resources
  • Safety Council
  • Crashproof Kids
  • Driving Skills
  • I Promise Program
  • Guardian Angel

  • More information
  • AAA Foundation
  • AAA's teen driving
  • Allstate teen report
  • Brakes for Brett
  • GCMS Project
  • Highway Safety
  • Illinois crash data
  • Insurance Institute
  • Highway safety
  • Operation Cool
  • Safety Council
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