Five Signs Your Teen Driver Is Ready To Go Solo

Jan 02, 2012 by

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Father directing his teenage son as he drives

Your teen may be convinced they’re ready to take the wheel on their own. But you know it’s your responsibility to make sure they understand the importance of safe driving before they head out alone.

After months of driving lessons, you might think they’ll never be ready—but your teen may surprise you.

Be Safe, Be Sure

Letting your teen get behind the wheel of a car can be very stressful—especially given the statistics:

  • Car crashes are the No. 1 killer of teens.
  • 282,000 teens were treated and released from emergency rooms in 2010 after car accidents.
  • Car crashes took an average of seven teen lives each day in 2010.

That’s why it’s important to make sure your teen is as prepared as possible before you let them drive solo. Here are five signs that your new driver is ready to go it alone:

1. They’ve completed a graduated driver-licensing (GDL) program. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “Graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws reduce [crash] risk by making sure teens gradually build up driving experience under lower-risk conditions as they mature and develop skills.” The program includes three phases:

  • a supervised learner’s period
  • an intermediate license (earned after passing a road test) that limits driving in high-risk situations except under supervision
  • a license with full privileges

You can learn more about the individual GDL laws in your state on the Governors Highway Safety Association website.

2. They’ve made a commitment to safe driving. Whether they’re doing the driving or simply along for the ride, teens need to commit to following the rules of the road in order to keep everyone safe. There are several ways for teens to show this commitment—and get their parents and friends involved. For example:

  • Through the Keep the Drive program, teens can sign the “Not My Friends Pledge,” which states that, “Not one of my friends will get hurt or die in a car crash. Not when I’m behind the wheel. And not when I’m a passenger in their car.”

3. You’ve talked with your teens about safe driving. Research by The Allstate Foundation shows that teens name parents as the primary influence when it comes to driving. There are several things you can think about when talking to your teens about driving, such as:

  • making the talk a conversation and skipping the lecture
  • keeping the conversation going even after your teen has his or her license
  • celebrating the accomplishment of getting a license

4. They understand the difference between “good” and “safe” driving. Because there is a difference, at least to teens. Allstate Foundation research shows that teens consider “good” drivers to be those who can handle a car at high speeds—what most would deem a reckless driver. “Safe” drivers are ones that follow all of the rules of the road. Driving laws vary state by state, so it’s important that teens research and study what makes a safe driver in their state.

5. They put their cellphones in park. Texting and driving has become a hot topic in the past few years. Most states have passed laws against using your cellphone while driving, but it can be especially tempting for teens to remain in contact when behind the wheel. According to research from The Allstate Foundation, texting is the biggest distraction for teen drivers, with 82 percent of teens reporting using cellphones when on the road. Girls are the biggest offenders of texting and driving, according to the research.

Recommended by the Editors:

Check out some of these other resources for teen driving.

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