Hearing news reports about teen-driving crashes is unsettling for any parent with a fledgling driver of their own. But you have more influence on your teen's behavior and safety behind the wheel than you may think.
A great way to tilt the odds in your teen's favor is to follow graduated licensing laws and set your own "house rules" appropriate for your teen's developing skills and maturity. These 10 tips are good places to start. Many aren't just good advice – they're the law:
Learn and enforce graduated licensing laws. Studies show that graduated licensing prevents collisions and saves lives. Familiarize yourself with your state's laws so you can help your teen follow them.
Set limits on when and where your teen can drive Limit nighttime driving, which poses a higher risk – especially Friday and Saturday nights. Consider activity-based curfews (e.g., rather than "Be home at 10," say "Be home once the movie ends"). Set a geographic area in which they can drive; anything beyond that requires permission.
Limit the number of passengers. Fatality rates jump when peers ride along. Of all distractions, other passengers are the biggest distraction your teen can face.
Stress life-saving seatbelt use. Teens tend to use seatbelts less often than older drivers and passengers – only 38% use seat belts each time they get in a car.
Insist that your teen follows all traffic laws.
Supervise your teen's driving. Hop in the passenger seat as often as possible so you can identify and help correct unsafe driving behaviors before they become hard-to-break habits.
Set an example. Teens are more likely to follow the rules of the road if they see you do, too.
Establish expectations and consequences. Consider signing a parent-teen driving agreement, and reward responsibility.
Rather than "small and inexpensive," consider a larger, newer model with as many safety features as you can reasonably afford.
Car on, cell phone off. Make sure your teens follow eDUI laws aimed at reducing distracted driving.