Teenage Driving Tips for Parents

How should I be involved?

These teenage driving tips and strategies will help get parents and families safely and smoothly through the teenage driving years. Whether you’re going to teach your teenager to drive yourself or not, the most important thing you can do is to be involved. Your son or daughter is about to learn a complex activity that can have far-reaching consequences. Consider the following strategies and teenage driving tips.

What strategies work best?

No strategy will work equally well in each family, but here some things to consider:

1.  Review the Teenagers and Crashes fact sheet (PDF) to help you put the risks of teenage driving into perspective.

2.  Review the Facts About Teenage Driving to help guide you through the process. It’s important that you understand the real risks and issues facing young drivers and their families. 

3. Brush up on your own driving skills and show your young driver how it’s done properly – Teenagers watch and learn from you each time you’re in the car together. You have a profound influence on what kind of driver they will be. It’s important that you and your young driver’s older brothers and sisters demonstrate safe driving behaviours at all times.

4. Observe other drivers – This is a great way to learn – even for pre-driving teens. It can help to keep the lines of communication open and can start your teenager thinking about what good (safe) driving is and what bad (unsafe) driving behaviours should be avoided. Check out You Be the Judge.

5. Learn by watching each other drive – By “testing” each other, you and your young driver can learn from one another. It’s a great way to brush up on your own skills and keep the lines of communication open while providing some real learning opportunities for your young driver. Go to Test Each Other.

6. Establish, maintain and encourage open communications – Not always an easy task, but open, honest communications will help build a level of trust that will make things go more smoothly. Use our family driving contracts to help you:

  • Talk with your young driver and ask for his or her input.
  • Lay out your expectations clearly in advance.
  • Be clear about the consequences for not meeting your expectations.
  • Get a commitment to meet your expectations from your young driver.
  • Let your young driver know when he or she is not meeting your expectations.
  • Carry through with the consequences for not meeting expectations and commitments.
  • Listen to what your son or daughter has to say.
    Remember – showing respect for your young driver will lead to mutual respect. Think about:
  • How do you usually communicate with your teenager? What is the level of trust?
  • What kind of rules do you generally have within your family?
  • What is your personal style of communication and what are your expectations of your young driver?
  • What is the personality of your teenager and what has worked with him or her in the past?

7. Establish your teenager’s driving rules by developing a family driving contractLay out your expectations in advance. It’s important that you and your young driver agree on the rules and on the consequences for breaking the rules. Remember, with a contract, you also have to agree to uphold your responsibilities.

Teenage Driving Tips

Remember that learning to drive isn’t a single event – it takes place each and every time you’re in the car. As your young driver learns, you will take on many different roles:  teacher, coach, trainer and concerned parent. Use the tips below to help pave the way for a smoother ride:

  • Be involved – Even if your teenager is taking driver training, spend time talking to your young driver, going out for practice sessions and following his or her progress.
  • Make time for practice sessions – It’s important that your young driver has plenty of time to practice as he or she is learning. It also gives you a chance to judge when your young driver is ready for the road test, and, that most important event – driving alone.
  • Read the licensing manuals and discuss them – Take time to read both of BC’s driving manuals: learn to drive smart and Tuning Up for Drivers. They are valuable learning tools and great discussion starters.  Download them or go to your local licensing office
  • Check out our Links and Resources – A number of excellent resources are listed including online Practice KnowledgeTest and Safety Tips from Driver Examiners 
  • Take it easy – It’s not always easy, but it’s best to remain calm. Having a serious talk with your teenager about his or her driving should never be done while either of you is behind the wheel. Wait until you’re safely at home.
  • Stay  involved – Even after your young driver has moved to the Novice stage or is fully licensed, you can continue to learn from each other by talking about how to handle difficult driving situations. You may even want to continue using the house rules you’ve already established after your young driver is fully licensed.