5 Ways to road-proof your teen driver

Worried about handing over the keys to your teenager? You’re not being an overprotective mother. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), the number-one cause of death for all 15 to 20-year-olds is motor vehicle crashes, with nearly 2,000 young drivers killed each year. Find out what you can do to help your teen driver stay safe on the road.

Mother embracing teenage girl holding keys

Photo credit: Jupiterimages / Stockbyte / Getty images

Be a good role model

Think your kids aren’t paying attention to how you drive? Think again. According to a January 2014 study conducted by Travelers, teens who report their parents are not good driving role models are more than twice as likely to be involved in an accident and more than twice as likely to have been issued more than one ticket for speeding or another moving violation. Set an example by driving safely, not speeding and never texting or talking while driving. If you’re a cell-phone addict (who isn’t these days?), make it a habit to turn your phone off every time you buckle up.


Set the ground rules

Safercar.gov recommends talking to kids about vehicle safety even before they reach driving age. Once they get that coveted driver’s license, spell out the rules (and consequences) and consider having teen drivers sign a driving agreement. Recommended rules include:

  • No cell phone
  • No extra passengers
  • No speeding
  • No alcohol
  • Always buckle up

Quick tip:

Don’t wait to have the conversation. A Travelers’ survey showed that 67 percent of 16-year-olds want to talk about safe driving with their parents, but half were still waiting for their parents to initiate the conversation. By age 18, the number dropped to 29 percent.


Teach tire safety

When it comes to driving safety, tires are where the rubber meets the road. Teach your teen driver how to properly maintain tires, and give a hands-on lesson on changing a flat tire. Better yet, put a set of Bridgestone DriveGuard run-flat tires on your new driver’s car, and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with tires that can be driven up to 50 miles at a maximum speed of 50 mph after a puncture or loss of tire pressure.


Turn to the professionals

Mom and Dad are usually the ones who have to white-knuckle their way through the experience of teaching their teen to drive. But it’s always a good idea to seek out a professional driving class to give teens hands-on experience learning safe driving techniques.To find a state-by-state listing of car-control driving clinics, visit Consumer Reports.

Quick tip:

The Bridgestone Teens Drive Smart Driving Experience is a free, half-day workshop designed to teach new drivers accident-avoidance skills, eliminate distracted driving behaviors and instruct teens on basic vehicle maintenance tips. Check the Teens Drive Smart website for cities and dates.


Let them drive

Multiple studies show that driving experience affects crash risk even more than a driver’s age. Give your new driver the opportunity to practice, practice, practice. Take your teenagers to parking lots and intersecting one-way streets. Let them practice driving at night, on low-traffic roads and high-traffic intersections. Explain basic maneuvers as you go. The more experience the newbies get, the safer they’ll be — and the less you’ll have to worry when you’re not sitting in the passenger’s seat.

More on safe driving tips

Teen drivers: Track them or trust them
10 Ways parents can help teens drive safely
How to choose a driving school for your teen