Updated June 4, 2019 . AmFam Team
Summer means no school! And for teenagers, that typically means hanging with friends, staying out a little later than usual and having a lot of parent-free fun. For many families, this is the first summer a teenager in their house has their driver’s license.
Handing over the keys to your teenager for the first time can be a nerve-wracking experience. But that experience can be a lot less stressful by making sure your teen understands the rules of the road and how to be an attentive driver.
Keep emotions in check. We’ve all had frustrating moments while driving — another driver cuts you off, someone honks at you for going the speed limit, there’s a traffic jam when you’re already late — but acting on it can make the road a much more dangerous place. Teach your teen how to let go of the frustration that happens when encountering rude drivers or unexpected situations.
They should also know that if they encounter overwhelming situations, they should pull over in a safe location, catch their breath, then resume driving when they’re ready. Nervousness on the road can cause just as many problems as anger, including reduced reaction time, erratic speeds and sudden swerving. Allow your teen to express their fears and frustrations about driving so you can talk through them before they get behind the wheel.
Limit passengers. Sometimes, you can’t avoid having a passenger. But the more passengers a teenager has in the car, the more likely they are to get into an accident. And with your teen driver spending more time with friends during the summer, that could mean more travel time in the car. Consider limiting the amount of friends your teen drives with to help limit the risk of distracted driving.
Stay off cell phones. While research shows just talking on a cellphone, even hands-free, is enough to distract someone from driving safely, texting is even more dangerous. Implement a rule with your teenager that forbids cellphone use while driving, and don’t text or call your teenager when you know they’re driving.
Follow the rules. Your teen should understand the importance of following the rules of the road, from stop signs to speeding to wearing a seatbelt. Your teenager should have a strong understanding of the potential consequences of breaking the rules. These include receiving tickets, having their license revoked and causing a fatal accident.
Stay alcohol-free. Make sure your teen understands the importance of remaining sober while driving. They should know that no matter how much a person has had to drink, it can still impair their driving.
Understand how to handle bad weather. Thunderstorms and high winds are common over the warmer months, so make sure your teenager knows how to handle them. Teaching your teen to drive in different types of weather can help them respond to changing conditions on the road and know when it’s time to pull over. It can also help them build confidence and reduce stress while driving in rough weather.
More practice. Did you know that teenagers spend 44% more time driving over the summer than during the school year? That’s a lot of time on the road! Supervise your teen’s driving until you’re confident they can handle travelling alone. Even if they’ve received their license, you’ll know whether or not your teen is truly ready for the road.
If you have a new teenage driver ready for the road, be sure to connect with your American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab) to sign your child up for the Teen Safe Driver Program. It can help your teen reduce distracted driving behaviors and rewards them for improving their driving skills. Participating in the program can also qualify you for up to a 10% discount* on your car insurance after your teen completes 3,000 miles or one year in the program.