Teen Driving: What Every Parent Needs to Know

The National Safety Council long has been involved in reducing the number of teen driver car crashes — by far the number one cause of death for teens. Here is what every parent needs to know:

Inexperience contributes to thousands of teen car crashes each year.

  • 2 million teens under the age of 18 are in their first year of driving
  • 40% of crashes happen at night, most before midnight
  • Each year, drivers under 18 are involved in 900,000 crashes
  • 16 to 19 year-old drivers are most likely to be in a fatal crash

Parents are the Key

Staying involved helps keep new drivers safe. While we as parents face the same risks each time we drive, we have experience, where they do not. Our experience has taught us how to recognize and avoid these risks.

Experts advise taking the following actions to help keep your teen safe behind the wheel:

  • Practice with new drivers: Sit beside them as they drive and schedule 30 minutes of practice time each week—before and after they get their license—to check in and see how they are doing.
  • Set a good example: Drive the way you want your teen to drive. Your sons and daughters have learned from you all their lives. They don’t stop learning now that they have their license.

Sign the New Driver Deal, which helps define expectations — for parents and teens.

Let teens earn privileges: The best way teens can show they are ready for new privileges is to show they can handle the ones they already have been given.

Parents should discuss their feelings about teen driver safety with each other: It can be tough enforcing rules with your teen when the parents of their friends don’t follow suit. It also can be dangerous for your teen to be a passenger in a car driven by a teen given too many driving privileges too soon.

Learn more:

— Lisa Robinson is a senior program manager with the National Safety Council