Your teen driver may go through a formal driver education course before being allowed to get a driver’s license. But it’s up to you to help him or her complete the required amount of supervised driving. These dos and don’ts will help you navigate the process.
- Start simple. Ease your teen into driving by limiting supervised sessions to less than 20 minutes. As your teen gets more confident, he or she will feel more comfortable with longer sessions. Once your teen driver is comfortable with short daylight drives, add nighttime drives. Then include drives in difficult weather conditions such as rain and snow.
- Set a good example. When you’re behind the wheel, model the kinds of safe, responsible driving behavior that you’d like to see from your observant teen driver: Don’t drive distracted. Never text or talk on the phone while driving. Always wear your seatbelt and pay attention to how you’re driving, from navigating lane changes to approaching traffic lights and stop signs.
- Be patient. Your teen driver has just started to learn, so you can’t expect him or her to know driving rules that seem obvious to experienced drivers. If your teen makes a mistake, reframe it as a learning opportunity: ‘I notice you haven’t checked your rearview mirror in a while. Remember that it’s important to be aware of cars around you at all times. With enough practice, you’ll learn to do this without thinking.
- Allow smartphone use. Using a phone behind the wheel compromises more than a third of your brain power. Before your teen starts any vehicle, put all the smartphones in the glove compartment–yes, even yours. This way, you’ll both be alert during supervised driving. That’ll make teachable moments that much more effective.
- Be negative or critical. Maintain a calm, positive and supportive atmosphere throughout the driving session. This will help your teen develop and maintain good driving habits. Instead of saying, ‘Stop speeding! You’re going to get a ticket!’ try saying, ‘What’s the speed limit on this road?’
Try These Teen Driver Resources
- The Steer Clear Safe Driver app from State Farm allows teen drivers to log their supervised driving hours to track their progress toward getting licensed. The app also offers tips for driving in various weather conditions and has instructional videos to help teens understand different driving maneuvers and situations.
- The Road Trips app structures supervised practice so that novice teen drivers get the most out of their training time on the road.
- The State Farm Driver Feedback app uses a cell phone’s sensors to detect aggressive acceleration, braking or cornering; some driving education instructors use it to help guide novice drivers and measure improvement. The app also logs practice drives, showing mileage, maps of drives and driving scores.
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