Keep Your Teen Drivers Safe

Keep Your Teen Drivers Safe

AAA’s Top Tips to Build Good Driving Habits
April S. Engram
aaa driver training car and instructor

Learning to drive can be stressful for teens and parents. Teenagers have the highest crash rate of all drivers on the road. Parents can ease their anxiety and protect their kids by getting actively involved in the learning process. 

Talking frequently about driving safety, creating a driving agreement, practicing driving together and leading by example can make a huge difference in helping your teen drive safer—especially when you’re not in the car. 

Here are some tips to help keep your teen driver safe:

  1. Talk about driving safety early and often. Start by teaching your kids what kinds of driving behaviors are risky:
    • Speeding: Discuss the importance of adhering to posted speed limits and knowing when to slow down for bad road or weather conditions.
    • Distraction: A AAA study found that interacting with passengers and cell phones were the most frequent distractions for teen drivers. 
    • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs: Make sure your teen understands that impaired driving should never be an option.
    • Poor visual scanning: Talk to your young driver about the importance of staying alert and constantly scanning the road for hazards. 
  2. Lay out the rules of the road. Research shows that teens report engaging in less risky behavior when there is a formal agreement to establish driving boundaries. Visit for a sample agreement and other information to help parents and teens navigate the learning-to-drive process.
  3. Prepare with practice. Plan to log at least 100 hours of driving practice with your teen before letting them drive solo. Expose them to different situations while driving together – night and day, freeways and gravel roads, sunny days and wet weather – to increase their experience.
  4. Set a good example. Show your teen that you take driving as seriously as you expect them to. Avoid speeding and distractions. Always wear your seat belt. Obey traffic laws. Never drive impaired. 
  5. Insure your new driver. Talk with your agent about adjusting your policies:
    • Consider increasing deductibles. A deductible is the portion you pay out of your own pocket if you have to file a claim. Higher deductibles generally equal lower premium costs.
    • Check for discounts. Ask about discounts for good students or teens who complete safe driving courses. You may also be able to save money by combining your auto and homeowners policies with a single insurer. 
    • Choose safety over speed. When shopping for a car for your teen driver, avoid cars with high horsepower. Consider heavier vehicles with electronic stability control, which is mandatory for vehicles since the 2012 model year.   

By setting parameters, new drivers can greatly minimize their risk of a crash. The online AAA StartSmart Program also offers great resources for parents on how to become effective in-car coaches as well as advice on how to manage their teen’s overall driving privileges.
AAA recommends that regardless of their age when first learning to drive, new drivers should remember to “R.E.A.D the road”:

  • R = Right speed, for right now: Always mind the speed limit and reduce your speed when traveling in adverse weather conditions. 
  • E = Eyes up, brain on: Always scan the road to anticipate dangers ahead.  Eliminate distractions and keep your mind focused on the task of driving.
  • A = Anticipate their next move: Be aware of other drivers on the road. Anticipate their next move and always have a plan to respond.
  • D = DONUT of space around your vehicle: Keep large amounts of space to the front and sides of the vehicle.

Driver Training and Education through AAA prepares young drivers for the many challenges they're bound to face on the road. AAA Driver Training offers student in-car driving lessons, driving evaluations and now the required 5-hour pre-licensing class virtually! Start today! 

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