Lesson 14: Passenger Rules for Teen Drivers

Passengers can pose a serious risk to inexperienced teens, which is why many states have passenger restrictions for new drivers. While it’s crucial that you enforce strong passenger rules, it’s also important to prepare your teen to drive with them eventually.

No Passengers the First Year

It may seem incredibly inconvenient to limit your teen’s ability to give rides to younger siblings or friends, but this is an absolute necessity for keeping your teen safe. Friends and siblings may actually pose a higher risk than other passengers, since they know how to push your teen’s buttons. No matter what your state’s specific rules require, you should plan to enforce this rule for at least the first year your teen spends behind the wheel. And don’t forget that this applies to your teen as a passenger, as well. Other parents may have more lax rules, but that doesn’t make this situation any safer.

Set Expectations for Passengers

Of course, you can’t ignore the fact that your teen will drive with passengers at some point, and you want him or her to be prepared when that time comes. A good way to do this is to talk through what your teen should expect from you while you are in the passenger seat. For starters, you should never purposefully distract your teen. In fact, you can help by setting or making changes to the GPS, music or heat settings in the vehicle, all of which can be tricky or even dangerous for new drivers. Teach your teen to expect safe behavior from all passengers and to speak up when they cause distractions.

Practice: Passenger rules may be difficult to enforce, especially if other parents don’t stick to them, so work with your teen to find solutions. Your teen should know that he or she can always call you for a ride if the only other option is to ride with another teen. Your New Driver Deal can help you both agree on these details, so be sure to revisit this tool once your teen has gotten more experience.


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