Expert Tips for Parents of New Drivers - National Safety Council

Expert Tips for Parents of New Drivers

Hear from parents of teens on the best tips for coaching your new driver.

November 19, 2020

We often talk about how hard it is for teens to learn to drive, but this process can be difficult for parents of teens, too.

Every parent wants to keep their teen safe, but what exactly should you do to make that happen? To help talk this through, we recently hosted a panel during National Teen Driver Safety Week. This panel featured multiple parents of teen drivers, all sharing their experiences on what has worked for them and their teens (as well as what hasn’t worked so well).

You can view the full panel for free, but we wanted to share some of the main takeaways from this discussion in the hopes that they can help you and your teen driver stay safe.

Be strict and start early

Setting strict rules for your teen driver may seem harsh but keep in mind that what your teen views as “strict” will depend entirely how things have been in the past. If your teen has older siblings, for example, who didn’t have many driving rules, then any rules you set now will seem strict in comparison.  

The earlier you start make roadway safety a priority, the more your teen will do the same. If you hold yourself to strict driving standards as your child grows up, those same strict rules won’t come as a shock once your teen gets into the driver’s seat. Ultimately, it’s strict rules that will keep your teen out of particularly dangerous driving situations. So teach your teen about these risks early on, follow them yourself and help your teen understand the reasoning behind the rules.  

Look for help wherever you can 

Things have changed since you got your driver’s license, and teens today may face many different barriers to getting licenses of their own. From vehicle costs and insurance rates to the time needed for practice lessons, it can be a difficult balancing act for parents and teens. 

However, there are more helpful resources available now than ever before. Whether it’s insurance discounts, scholarships for driver education courses or supplementary resources to streamline practice sessions, help is out there. Our Pointers for Parents and New Driver Deal are a great starting point. Be sure to talk to your insurance company, your teen’s school and other parents of teen drivers for additional guidance. 

Make sure your teen is comfortable in the car

Price is an unavoidable factor in the vehicle your teen drives but you can’t forget about your teen’s comfort (and no, we’re not talking about heated seats). To put it simply, if your teen isn’t comfortable in a car – as in, able to easily see the road and mirrors, control the steering wheel, and reach the pedals – then how can your teen safely drive?

Sometimes, this might just mean adjusting the seat and mirrors, but in other cases it could mean a vehicle is just wrong for your teen. Whether your child is especially short or tall (or the vehicle is particularly big or small), make sure it’s a good fit before your teen drives. This is important both when looking at vehicles to purchase and when practicing in a car that’s new to your teen.

Our panelists had plenty of great stories and tips to share in this panel, with the above points just scratching the surface. Take a look at the full panel and use these suggestions to help keep your new driver safe.