Learning to drive is a rite of passage teens look forward to—the freedom of the open road, the chance to make their own choices, and the control of thousands of pounds of power. But, as the famous phrase goes, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Driving is something teens and parents have to take very seriously. To do so, education and awareness are key. Here are some safe driving resources and tips to help educate teen drivers in Denver:
Find a class. If your teen’s school does not offer driver education, you still have options. The Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles offers a list of driving schools in your area. Each listed school is approved by the state, offers six hours of behind-the-wheel training and administers the written and driving tests. The list is updated monthly, so refer back to it when it’s time to sign up.
Sign your teen up for a free clinic. Consider signing your teen up for a half-day driving program that’s stopping in Denver this year on its annual tour. Driver’s Edge is a free workshop for drivers ages 21 and younger, with a valid license or permit. Trained instructors teach real-life driving safety with classroom and behind-the-wheel instruction.
The Bridgestone Teens Drive Smart Driving Experience is another free, half-day clinic that your teen may want to attend. It includes group discussions and hands-on driving exercises, led by highly trained driving instructors. Students get to drive a BMW on a staged, closed course, as well as learning the dangers of multitasking behind the wheel and ways to respond in less-than-ideal driving situations.
Discuss distracted driving. According to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of U.S. high school students 16 or older say they text or email while driving. Texting or talking on your cellphone while driving is against the law for drivers under age 18 in Colorado.
Smart phones aren’t the only driving distractions, though. Eating, grooming and even using a GPS device can take a teen’s mind and eyes off the road and hands off the wheel. Talk to your teens about driving distractions and the importance of staying focused on the road.
“As the true dangers of distracted driving have come to light over the years, statistics have started to point to the surprising fact that driving distractions on Colorado’s roads may even lead to more traffic fatalities than drinking and driving,” local law firm Babcock LLC says on its website.
Make sure your teen knows and obeys driving laws. In 2005, Colorado added some driving laws for teens, including restricting the number of passengers in a minor’s car and prohibiting a minor who has had a drivers license for less than one year from driving between midnight and 5 a.m.
Several other local laws are in place with the goal of minimizing teen accidents. They include the requirement of a minimum of 50 hours of supervised practice driving during the learner’s permit stage (10 of which must be at night), a prohibition on texting while driving for all drivers, and the prohibition of non-emergency use of cellphones for all drivers younger than age 18. Read on for more local laws you may not know about.
By educating your teen, knowing the local laws and encouraging good driving habits, you can help make sure your teen stays safer on the road.