SmartDrive would like to share with you highlights from a meeting dealing with Driver Education curriculum.

Among the topics, a discussion of the critical role of parents in influencing teen driving behaviors.  Remember, parents should consider laws regarding teen drivers as broad guidelines.  

Parents, as the keeper of the keys to the car, should not hesitate to exercise their own rules with their inexperienced Teen Drivers.  Teen Driver Contracts are a great way to start – here is great information from the Teen Driver Source from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

If you have not already, use a Teen-Parent Driving Contract to set expectations. You can download a contract here (PDF File).

After you and your Teen Driver sign it – post it where it will serve as a visible reminder each time your Teen reaches for the keys.

Other Highly Recommended Actions

Work to develop and improve your young driver’s skills by scheduling time to drive with them. Schedule opportunities to provide more supervised driving time for your young driver, so they can gain more vital experience while having a more-seasoned driver to assist them.  As confidence improves in the Teen Driver skills, introduce more challenging driving situations – city driving, congested areas – to gain experience and understanding that will be useful when they are on their own.

Make student performance in school a key to allowing vehicle use. If grades are unsatisfactory — take the keys! Studies show that irresponsible driving and poor school performance are related — that is why insurance companies offer discounts to good students.

Set curfews for your Teen Driver. As a law enforcement official said, “Rarely does anything good happen after 11 at night.
Delaware law states clearly – After the first six months of valid Level One Learner’s Permit driving authority, the permit holder may drive unsupervised between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.

Forbid distractions behind the wheel. Driving and texting, driving and talking on the cell phone (even hands free), eating when behind the wheel and even changing music on the car stereo or phone – these activities all are significant and potentially deadly distractions for ALL DRIVERS, not just Teens.

Limit passengers allowed in the car. Friends, other peers of the driver and siblings. If you do allow your Teen Driver to have passengers in the car, teach them to be assertive in managing what goes on in that car.
Passenger management is a particularly difficult skill for Teen Drivers who are so vulnerable to peer pressure. Teen drivers in the second six month GDL period are restricted by law to only one unrelated passenger in the car.

Share with your Teen a “Don’t make me turn this car around” story from your youth – and give them the confidence to understand that safety comes first and when they are the driver – safety is their responsibility.

Do not allow your Teen Driver to drive drowsy. Young drivers often begin their days early; many are awake at 5:30 or 6 am for early athletic practices and other activities. If not fully rested, they will be drowsy drivers.
After school, when their level of interaction with friends and teachers ends – many teenage brains basically shut down from the lack of stimulation – also resulting in drowsiness.
Consider too, that many teens do not get to sleep until 11 pm or later – due to homework demands or engagement in gaming or social media.
That leaves them sleep deprived and often resulting in “crashing” on weekends in an attempt to “catch-up.” Nothing will erase a sleep deficit except maintaining a regular sleep schedule.
Drowsiness behind the wheel is an IMPAIRMENT. The effects of drowsy driving on the brain and body are equivalent to those of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Studies have shown being awake for 16 to 18 hours straight has the same effect on reaction times and decision making as serving of alcohol.

Your Teen Driver is a precious gift. Do not hesitate to be a Parent – assure yourself that when they drive, they will Arrive Alive.