ASK THE EXPERTS Q & A
1. Should my new teen driver have their own car?
2. What are the best vehicles for a new teen driver?
3. What about car devices that monitor teen driving habits?
4. What are the teen driving laws in my state?
5. Can you help me find the nearest Motor Vehicle Division?
6. Is a family driving plan really necessary?
7. What is Graduated Driver Licensing?
8. How do I know if my teen is ready to drive?
9. What are the biggest mistakes that parents make regarding their new teen drivers?
10. What are the most common teen driving mistakes?
11. Where can I get more driving information regarding a teen with special learning needs?
Every family is different. However, the need of every teenage driver remains the same; SAFETY is paramount. Convenience should not be the determining factor. If your teen demonstrates the maturity to discuss family driving rules and obey them, they may be responsible enough to help pay for and maintain their own vehicle. Caution is urged when purchasing a vehicle as a gift for your new teen driver. Entitlement, without personal responsibility, can be a dangerous mix.
There are many factors to consider when purchasing a vehicle. Safety is the primary objective. Consider top causes of teen motor vehicle crashes: speed, passenger and phone distraction, inexperience and night driving. Avoid vehicles with high performance features which can promote speeding. Know the vulnerabilities of a sport utility vehicle in the hands of an inexperienced teen driver. While an SUV provides advantages with its size, its higher center of gravity causes a severe disadvantage in abrupt steering wheel maneuvers (over-correcting), leading to increased rollover crashes. Research the safety features and ratings on the vehicles you are considering. Helpful sites include:
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
Some families choose to monitor their teens’ driving by installing devices such as Event Data Recorders or by using GPS satellite tracking services. Others enroll in subscription programs that forward voice and written driving incidents of teenage drivers via a bumper sticker number that concerned citizens can report. Families who monitor and track their teens in this way find it to be another tool in keeping their teens safe. They do not view it as displaying mistrust in their children. Rather, it answers questions regarding how well the teen driver has learned to keep themselves safe. It also provides the teenager with a tool to deal with peer pressure. They can say things like “I can’t go any faster because I’m being watched” or “This car has a tracking device so I can’t go there”. For an example, see Consumer Reports.org.
The Governors Highway Safety Association offers a list of state teen driving laws http://www.ghsa.org/html/stateinfo/laws/license_laws.html
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates each state on the effectiveness of teen driving laws http://www.iihs.org/laws/graduatedLicenseIntro.aspx
DMV.org offers help in locating the nearest Motor Vehicle Division http://www.dmv.org/
A family driving plan, often referred to as a driving contract, is an important safety tool. A driving plan holds both teen and parent accountable. Driving expectations are written and agreed upon before driving begins. The driving plan is an excellent safety tool if it is reviewed and followed consistently. There are many excellent driving plans available. The Lisa Johnson Foundation offers the Act on the Facts Driving Plan which addresses the top causes of teen motor vehicle crashes.
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"Driving is a life skill that needs to be approached with careful thought and planning. The risk of not approaching it that way is far too high. Our children's lives are at stake if we don't.”
-Maria Wojtczak, Driving MBA
“The most important thing to a teenager is his or her social life. So you provide for social growth, within reason. Friends can influence one another for better and for worse, so you monitor where your teen goes and with who at all times. One lapse in judgment can be devastating, so you are there, prepared to help your teen be safe.”
-Dr. Lynne Kenney