PARENTS, HERE’S HOW TO GET YOUR TEEN READY TO DRIVE
You knew this was coming, but you can’t put it off any longer: Your teen is old enough to drive.
While it isn’t that scary, as a parent, you no doubt have that part of you that is worried about
your teen’s safety even if your teen is the most responsible person you’ve ever met. Teens have
a much higher car accident rate than other age groups — nearly three times higher. Create a
plan now to get your teen ready to drive — and remember that driving now contains distractions
that you likely didn’t have as a teen.
Find the Right Car
You need a car that ranks well in safety tests but that is also easy to control. Large, tanklike
SUV’s may initially seem like a good investment, but those can be notoriously difficult to drive in
tight spots and park in tight parking lots. If you’re not comfortable with your teen driving a
smaller car, however, a midsize vehicle or compact SUV might be a better option.
Whichever model you choose should have good visibility. Look at reliability ratings, too, to
ensure the car has the best chance of making it home without trouble. Don’t forget mileage! No
matter who pays for gas, you want the best value you can get on fuel costs as your teen will
likely want to drive frequently.
Get the Right Insurance
Always start with your own insurance agent; adding your teen to your policy may be the easiest
way to go when the teen first starts driving. The cost to add a teen to your policy can make your
premiums rise sharply, but the cost of a standalone policy for the teen can be even more
expensive. Ask specifically about discounts that might apply, such as good student discounts,
good driver discounts, and anti-theft device discounts. All of those can add up to a hefty break in
If your current policy is bare bones, add more coverage. You want your teen to have coverage
such as comprehensive and not just liability.
Go Over Skills and Maintenance
Driver’s ed classes are no longer a part of many high school curriculum’s. Check with your
region’s auto club and with your insurance agent for potential recommendations for private
classes. Review your state’s driving laws, and go over the driving booklet with your teen; you
can get PDF versions from most states. Also sign your teen up for a basic auto maintenance
course, if one is offered in your area. The auto club in your area may offer classes or videos,
Don’t Forget Phone Use
Teens are more attached to their phones than you ever were, and if you’re an older parent, you
might not have had a cell phone at all when you learned to drive. You must discuss the dangers
of using a phone while driving. Set up an agreement about not using the phone while driving —
and be prepared to take the teen’s phone away if you find they’ve been paying more attention to
it than the road.
Test Navigation Skills
Your teen needs to learn basic navigation skills because their phone might not always be of
help. If they’re in an area with no signal, or their battery runs out, Google Maps isn’t going to
help much. Ensure the car has a road atlas, and teach your teen to read the map. Also discuss
safe places to pull over and where to go if the teen gets lost on the road.
That being said, finding a way to integrate your teen’s phone with the car is very helpful. Be sure
the phone has Google Maps and GPS settings; if the car has a navigation system, you can
connect Google Maps to the car to send directions to the nav system. You’ll also want to review
your phone carrier or switch to a new one to ensure your teen has reliable coverage when using
these integration features. Verizon, for example, has a great track record and is constantly
updating their network with the latest technology.
You were once a teen driver and managed to become more experienced, right? So will your
teen. Take the new driving process slowly and get help from your insurance agent, the local
auto club, and apps that can help make the driving experience a lot safer.