Lesson 6: The Passenger Problem
Once your teen can drive alone, he or she will want to have passengers. This is a particularly big risk for teen drivers, even ones with plenty of practice, so it’s crucial that you set and enforce strong rules limiting passengers. It won’t be easy, but here are some tips to make it stick.
The simplest limit to enforce is this: no non-adult passengers allowed for at least the first year of driving, no matter what your state allows. Parents and other adults can be great teachers from the passenger seat, but teens and younger passengers can pose serious risks. Even adults should take their responsibilities seriously and ensure they never distract your teen from focusing on the road. You can include this rule in your New Driver Deal, and revisit it once your teen’s skills have sufficiently developed. Just be sure your teen understands it fully and agrees to abide by it.
This will be a tough limit to stick to, for both you and your teen, particularly if there are younger siblings in the family. However, it is important that your teen avoids driving with young passengers (or riding with other teen drivers) until he or she has the skills to do so safely. Siblings and friends are especially risky, since they may be more likely to distract your teen. Review this rule regularly and work with your new driver to find solutions to any problems that come up. You might need to serve as the driver longer than expected, but it will mean your teen stays that much safer.
Practice: Whenever you ride with your teen, set a good example as a passenger, and talk about what your teen should expect of passengers once he or she can drive with them. Your teen should feel confident to point out distractions and request safe behaviors from everyone in the car.