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Car Insurance

Tips for parents teaching their teens how to drive

Your teen just passed their learner’s permit test and you have a lot of questions about permit restrictions, road safety, and auto insurance. Read our tips and gain peace of mind.

Your teen just passed their learner’s permit test and while they couldn’t be more excited, you couldn’t be more nervous. You’re obviously very proud, but you have a lot of questions and concerns about learner permit restrictions and rules and how to keep a new driver safe on the roads. These anxious feelings don’t make you an untrusting parent. You just know that car accidents are the number one cause of death for people age 15 to 24 in the United States, with an average of 2,263 deaths a year. In an effort to decrease this astonishing statistic, all 50 states have instituted a Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program in which new drivers must complete specific goals before becoming a fully licensed driver. The Center for Disease Control has concluded that these comprehensive programs have reduced vehicle related injuries and deaths by 40% for drivers aged sixteen. The GDL forces parents to be more involved with their teen’s personal driving laws and progress so that they can enforce these laws and offer help to create a safer environment for new drivers. Keep in mind that these goals and restrictions are determined by each individual state and so it’s important to check on your local DMV site for driver permit instructions.

Most Common Driving Practice Among Teen Drivers

Before you begin to study your state’s driving laws, make sure you and your teen are aware of the most common driving practices that lead to teen car accidents:

  • Driver inexperience

  • Driving with other teen passengers

  • Nighttime driving

  • Not using seat belts

  • Distracted driving

  • Drowsy driving

  • Impaired driving

  • Reckless driving

Although these dangerous practices can be done by a driver of any age, teen drivers are more likely than older drivers to underestimate hazardous situations and are overall bigger risk takers. Male drivers age 16 to 19 are specifically more likely to foster this mindset with an accident related death rate two times higher than female teen drivers.

Genereal Rules for Drivers with Permits

Generally for each state your child can apply for their driver’s learner permit at age fifteen or sixteen. Once they’ve passed the permit exam, your child must complete a driver’s education course and a minimum amount of hours of supervised practice driving time with the DMV or a certified driver’s education school. While the required supervised hours may seem like enough on paper, it’s highly recommended that parents or guardians continue to practice with their teen drivers in between these sessions. A teen can read their driver’s manual a hundred times, but the best form of practice for a new driver is to actually get behind the wheel. While each state has specific rules for permitted teens, they generally include:

  • Having a passenger in the front seat who is 21 years old or older and has at least one year of driving experience themselves. New drivers with a permit or junior operating

  • No driving at night, from late evening to early morning.

Because each state has different rules and regulations, it’s extremely important for parents and guardians to review their respective DMV laws so that they can enforce these laws with their teen. Their Junior Operating License (JOL) will also come with restrictions that you should be aware of, such as not being able to drive with other teens for a specified time period.

How to Help your Teen Practice Driving

As a parent or guardian, you most likely received your license years ago and therefore you can’t remember how it feels to get behind the wheel for the first time. Your experience as a mature driver has granted you skills of the roads that you may now assume as common knowledge. And so, the key to teaching and supervising your teen driver is patience. Understand that it would be stressful if someone got into your car and started yelling instructions at you. It’s important to start practicing with your teen in a parking lot or quiet residential neighborhood. Practice sessions should be as short as fifteen minutes in the beginning and then gradually increased to an hour as skills and confidence improve. Remember to practice in varying conditions such as daytime, nighttime, rain, and snow. Remember that because you’re so used to being the one in the driver’s seat that your perspective will look very different in the front passenger seat. So don’t automatically assume your child is going to hit the curb or the mailboxes. The session should stop as soon as you or the driver become tense or tired.

It’s a good idea to set a specific goal for each practice session. That way the driver knows what to expect and won’t get overwhelmed and you as the supervisor will keep a realistic goal of what a new driver can learn in only fifteen minutes. You can divide these sessions however you’d like depending on what you and your teen are comfortable with, but to help get your started we suggest the checklist below.

Parking lot practice:

  • Start up the vehicle and bring it to a smooth stop

  • Drive in a straight line forward and backwards

  • Left turn from stop

  • Right turn from stop

Quiet residential street practice:

  • Scanning traffic ahead, behind, and to the sides of the vehicle

  • Observe speed limit and their speed

  • Observe traffic lights, stop signs, intersections

  • Checking mirrors

  • Driving without drifting

  • Observing parked cars, bicyclists, pedestrians, children playing in yards, etc.

  • Controlling speed when taking a curve or going up/down a hill

  • Blind spots

  • Merging and appropriate gap space between vehicles

  • Yielding

Open road practice:

  • Observe safe following distance (two second interval)

  • Observe safe following in adverse conditions (four second interval)

  • Scan further ahead, behind, sides of vehicle

  • Use turning signals

  • Checking mirrors

  • Use brake lights

  • Controlling and maintaining speed when taking an exit, changing lanes, going up/down a hill, taking a curve

  • Blind spots

  • Merging and appropriate gap space between vehicles

  • Yielding

  • Passing

How Will Your Teen Affect Your Car Insurance?

When your teen passes their permit test, your insurance provider isn’t notified in any way by the DMV. You must contact your insurance agent yourself and let them know that your child now has their permit and will be driving your vehicle for practice. While there is no special insurance for permit drivers, your agent will be able to discuss what to expect and possible discounts once you add them to your policy as a fully licensed driver. Drivers under the age of twenty-five face higher premiums than the average driver and so adding your child to the family policy will save you the most money.

If you’re concerned about the price of adding your newly licensed child to your policy, it might be time to find a provider that offers cheaper rates than your current one. Online quote comparison sites, like Insurify.com, allow you to customize, build, unlock discounts, and purchase your policy online in minutes. Don’t sit on the phone all day waiting for the best deal. Use Insurify and spend more time teaching your child how to be a safe, successful driver!