How to Prepare your Teen for their License
Most parents dread the day their teen will start driving on their own. Getting behind the wheel is a big milestone, but one that must be properly prepared for. Parents and caregivers play a critical role in ensuring their teen is ready for the responsibility.
Outlined below are important steps to take before your teen heads to the DMV for their driver's license.
- Evaluate your teen’s readiness. Talk with your teen about personal responsibility and the importance of following the rules of the road. Make sure they understand the serious responsibility that comes along with a license and that every other driver on the road is depending on your teen to operate their vehicle safely. Ask your teen if they have any questions or concerns about the process before it begins.
- Get informed. Much has changed since you earned your driver’s license. Graduated driver licensing (GDL), driver education, license restrictions and supervised practice are all part of today’s process. Each state has parameters for young drivers that get less restrictive as time goes on, such as times of the day they can drive and how many passengers they can carry.
- Speak openly with your teen. Your “road wisdom” from years of driving can be helpful in teaching your teen the things you learned the hard way. Let your teen know that you were once a novice driver too and you understand the excitement they are feeling, but you also remember how easy it was to make a mistake. Talk to your teen about how the driving process will work in your house:
- When will your teen start driving?
- Will your teen have their own vehicle or will there be a process for earning driving time?
- What rules and responsibilities, such as paying for fuel or insurance, will your teen have?
- Emphasize passenger safety. If your teen is going through the license process, so are all of their friends. Remind them of the precautions to take when riding with others – as everyone is new to driving. Talk to your teen about:
- Always wear a seatbelt in every situation.
- Don’t get in the car with anyone without your permission.
- Be a responsible passenger as well as driver. When riding in someone’s car, be mindful of the driver’s attention to the road and avoid all distractive behavior.
- Be a good role model. Your teen has watched your driving habits forever. So, be the driver you want them to be.
- Always wear your seatbelt.
- Obey traffic laws.
- Never use a cell phone while driving.
- Don’t tailgate and don’t speed.
- Don’t drive when angry or tired – be a defensive driver.
If you would like to receive a series of e-newsletters from AAA’s StartSmart program about the licensing process, click this link. You will be emailed a series of messages that identify the challenges you and your teen will face and how to work as a team to get through them. Some of the topics include: driving at night, how to conduct supervised driving practice, distractions, and a parent-teen agreement.