Safe Driving Tips for a New Driver in Your Household
Getting a driver’s license is an exciting milestone moment that typically means your teen will have more freedom and independence. But, as you let your new driver head out onto the roadways by themselves or with a younger family member, you likely have some concerns about their safety—and for good reason. Even though your teen has probably done all the work necessary to earn a driver’s license, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says this may not mean they are ready for the same level of driving responsibility as you. In fact, a teenager’s limited driving skills and experience, along with their immaturity, mean that drivers in this age group get in more frequent and serious car crashes than the general population. Speeding, distracted driving, and making novice driving errors are just a few of the behaviors that put teens at more risk of an accident. So, what can you do to help your child navigate the road, and this new stage of life, as safely as possible? The Bearingstar team has uncovered four interesting safe driving tips for new drivers that you may want to try.
1. Regularly review the rules of the road with your teen.
You’ve probably spent several hundred dollars on a driver’s education program that required your child to get hours of in-classroom and on-road instruction. Now, the question is whether everything they have learned about vehicle safety, traffic laws, defensive driving, safe driving techniques, good driving attitudes and behaviors, and more is going to stay top of mind once they grab the keys and go. Driver’s ed programs recommend that the education continue at home well after a teen earns their license.
Parents are encouraged to regularly talk with their teens about the rules of the road, particularly the laws that target new drivers. In Massachusetts and Connecticut, for example, there are hands-free driving laws for all drivers, but these laws are stricter for 16- and 17-year-olds. In addition, both states have passenger restrictions, seat belt requirements, and curfews specific to newly licensed teenagers. Periodically quizzing your teen on these rules, and discussing the potential dangers and costly outcomes of not following them, may not only be an effective way to remind them of safe driving behaviors but also a great refresher for you.
2. Have your teen sign a driving agreement.
Remember when you had your child sign a family pet contract saying they would take 100% responsibility for feeding and walking their first dog? What about when you created a cell phone contract for them, which included requirements like answering your calls right away and always sharing passcodes with you? (If you didn’t do these things, it’s never too late to give them a try.)
In the same vein, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly encourages parents to have a driving agreement with their new driver. This document puts all rules and expectations in writing, outlines specific situations to avoid, and lists the consequences for breaking this contract. This contract can be updated with additional driving privileges as your teen gains driving experience and shows that they’ve been consistent in following the agreed-upon rules.
3. Let your teen put some miles on the family car before buying them a vehicle.
Part of your teen’s excitement over getting a driver’s license may be due in part to the promise of a new car coming their way soon. However, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) recommends holding off on this purchase for a while, even if it means a constant battle over who gets to use the family car. Initially, the GHSA says, it’s wise to limit your teen’s access to a vehicle and only allow them to use a car for driving activities that serve a purpose, such as running an errand for you.
Since the risk of a crash increases substantially when teens are just out for a joyride, setting these types of boundaries may minimize the likelihood of an accident. In addition, research shows that new drivers are more likely to speed in their own car versus the family vehicle. If you do decide to purchase a car for your child, the GHSA suggests that you choose a newer and larger model vehicle that includes important safety technology, like antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, forward collision warning, and blind-spot monitoring, to name just a few features you may want to consider.
4. Use technology to help monitor your teen and foster safer driving behaviors.
Technology is probably the last thing you thought would help minimize your anxiety over your teen driver being out on the roads. But think again! Today, there are driving monitoring apps specifically designed for parents to track their teenagers who are at the wheel. These apps can be programmed to summarize your teen’s driving habits and provide you with alerts if your child is not practicing safe driving behaviors. For example, some apps allow you to set a speed limit for your teenage driver and will notify you if your child exceeds this number. Depending on the app, you may also be able to tell if your teen is using their phone while driving. Better yet, through these apps, you can often set up a “Do Not Disturb” mode on your child’s phone that turns on when a vehicle is in motion. What happens if your teen disables the setting? You guessed it—you’ll be notified immediately.
Some driving monitoring apps also offer options such as GPS tracking, so you can check in on your teen driver’s whereabouts, and a silent alarm feature that your teen can trigger if they feel unsafe. If you’d like to implement this type of safety technology for your teen driver, you may want to first check with your local insurance professional to find out if your insurance company has their own driving monitoring app. Not only do many insurers have this option, but they also often offer rewards for your teen’s good driving behavior.
We know the main reason parents would want to implement these safe driving tips for their new driver is to protect their teen and minimize the likelihood of an accident. However, a side benefit of helping your child establish good driving behaviors is that this extra effort might help you better manage the cost of their car insurance.
As you may have already found out, an auto policy for a young, inexperienced driver is pricey. In fact, their demographic pays the highest car insurance rates because they are seen as being at a much higher risk of having an accident. While you can typically save some money by adding your child to your existing auto policy versus getting them a separate policy, you could really see a positive impact on your car insurance premium over time if your teen can maintain a clean driving record, with zero accidents and violations.
Whether your child is already driving or is nearing that pivotal age, Bearingstar is here to help you adjust your car insurance coverage appropriately. We will also make sure that you are taking advantage of all potential discounts that your teen might be eligible for, such as credits for being a good student or taking an approved driver training or safety program.
The team at Bearingstar would like to make sure that you understand all the insurance options for your new driver, that you are getting personalized and competitively priced coverage, and that you have access to additional safe driving tips for your new driver. Please contact our Massachusetts team at 877-801-7424 or a Connecticut Bearingstar professional at 888-519-9996. We will be here whenever you or your teen needs us.