Parent Involvement in Teen Driving Education
Parent involvement is a key factor in improving teen driver safety. Parents are the unofficial “driving coaches” who help their teen learn to drive and lead the licensing process. Here are the steps parents should follow and the tools Top Driver has available every step of the way:
|Talk to your Teen||Agree on your expectations and consequences of violations||Teen Driving Contract|
|Select the right driving school||Select a driving school based on quality of education||Evaluating a Driving School|
|Learn the process||Getting a license can be complicated. Learn the right steps and understand the required documents||IL Checklist|
|Be a good role model||Always follow the rules of the road; teens copy their parent’s behavior||Online Coaching Program|
|Be a great coach||You know how to drive, but coaching your teen can be nerve-wracking||Online Coaching Program|
|Get involved in training||Talk to your driving school instructor to identify skills your teen needs to focus on while practicing||On Road Coaching Guide|
|Continually assess and evaluate||Ensure your teen has experience in all driving conditions||Teen Driving Log|
Parents are essential partners in helping teens become intelligent drivers for life. As your partner, Top Driver provides the following safe driving tips. We hope you find these tips valuable not only in coaching your teen but also for your own driving as you are your teen’s biggest driving role model. Please pass this information along to other parents with teen drivers.
- Being a Role Model
- Passengers for Teen Drivers
- Impaired Driving & The Holidays
- Dangerous Driving Habits
- Distracted Driving
- Driver Fatigue
- Winter Driving
- Night Driving
- Driving in Rain and Fog
- Safe Procedures
for a Stuck Accelerator
Teenagers may or may not do as you say, but they are very likely to do as you do. From the time they are born and even into adulthood, children model their parents’ behavior, which is why it is so important to instill good habits in them. This is especially true with driving a vehicle.
How can parents be better role models for their teenage drivers? It starts with your attitude toward driving safety. Ask yourself:
• Are you emotionally ready to drive every time you get behind the wheel? Do you drive
when you are emotionally distressed (e.g. angry, distraught, etc.) or do you make sure you have calmed yourself down before you start the vehicle – even if it makes you a little late to your destination?
• Are you physically ready to drive every time you get behind the wheel? Do you drive when you are excessively fatigued?
• Do you drink and drive? Do you ride with drivers who do?
• Do you always wear your safety belt? Do you insist all your passengers wear their safety
Being a good role model continues with your actions in the vehicle:
• Are you calm, attentive and confident when you drive?
• Are you respectful of other drivers even when they are in the wrong?
• Do you maintain a safe speed in all conditions?
• Do you tailgate or do you leave the proper following distance (3-5 seconds) between you
and the vehicle in front of you?
• Do you avoid distractions? Do you text, use your cell phone, eat, or put on makeup while driving?
• Are you an aggressive driver? Do you cut others off? Do you race through traffic?
Your teen is watching you. How you behave in these situations greatly effects your teen’s driving behavior. Help your teen become an Intelligent Driver by being a good role model driver yourself.
Did you know that 59% of teenage passenger deaths occur in vehicles driven by another teenager? Nearly half of all teen crashes involved vehicles with one or more teen passengers. Fatal crashes involving young drivers are much more likely to occur when other teenagers are in the car, and the risk of a crash increases in proportion to the number of teenage passengers.
Why? Other teen passengers are distractions to the driver and cause a loss of focus on driving. In addition, peer pressure from the passengers can cause teen drivers to take actions they wouldn’t take if they were driving alone or with adults. Teenagers drive faster and take more risks when carrying peers than when carrying adults especially if the peers are young men. Given that behaving unconventionally can be a way to establish credibility with peers, the requirement for drivers to exhibit safe driving behavior can create significant social pressure on a teen driver. For example, everyone else can act silly or crazy in the vehicle, but the driver can’t. Even more worrisome are acts of disruption that directly interfere with driving, such as a passenger grabbing the steering wheel or nudging a driver.
In Illinois, teen drivers are limited by law on the number of passengers in their vehicle:
While holding a permit: Number of passengers limited to one in the front seat and the number of safety belts in the back seat.
During the Initial Licensing Phase (age 16-17): For the first year of licensing, or until the driver is age 18, whichever occurs first, the number of passengers is limited to one person under age 20, unless the additional passenger(s) is a sibling, step-sibling, child, or step-child of the driver. After this period, the number of passengers is limited to one in the front seat and the number of safety belts in the back seat.
What can you do as a parent? Make sure you and your teen know the law. Define the consequences of breaking the law in your Parent-Teen Driving Contract. Encourage your teen to be a well-behaved passenger especially when riding with a teen driver and to help “co-pilot” if the driver is losing focus.
The holiday season is a time for celebrating with family and friends, but the risk for impaired driving is especially high. In fact, the holiday season claims more lives to alcohol related deaths than any other time of the year and statistics show that Thanksgiving and the days immediately after Christmas are the worst for traffic fatalities. The statistics are indeed sobering:
• Every 30 minutes, nearly 50 times a day, someone in America dies in an impaired driving-
• According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about three in every ten Americans will be involved in an impaired driving crash at some point in their lives
Alcohol alters your vision, physical responsiveness, and your thinking skills. And don’t forget, medications and fatigue can exacerbate the effects of alcohol.
Most fatal, alcohol-related collisions occur at night. Be on the lookout for drivers who are driving too fast or slow for conditions, weaving, making wide turns, driving without headlights or with their high beams on. Give these driver’s plenty of room; stay well away from any driver you suspect may be impaired.
If you use alcohol to celebrate your holidays:
• Plan ahead by arranging for a designated driver, calling a taxi, or staying overnight
• Avoid drinking too much alcohol too fast; take breaks, alternate with non-alcoholic drinks
If you are hosting a Holiday party:
• Be sure all of your guests designate their drivers in advance, or help arrange ride-sharing with sober drivers
• Keep the numbers for local cab companies handy, and take the keys away from anyone
who is thinking of driving while impaired
Impaired driving is 100-percent preventable. Please do your part and enjoy your holidays!
Did You Know?
With summer approaching, teen drivers will have more opportunity to use their new driving
skills. But over 33% of new teen drivers are in a crash their first year and 4 out of 5 teen
crashes are due to driver error. Research shows there are several dangerous driving habits
that contribute to teen crashes or lessened driver safety and injuries:
• Excessive speed
• Driver distraction (e.g. cell phone use while driving or too many passengers in the vehicle, popular among teens especially in summer)
• Aggressive driving
• Not wearing a seat belt
• Drug and alcohol impairment
What You Can Do
Don’t let your teen start any bad habits this summer:
• Learn how to spot and correct these habits in your teen driver
• “Practice what you preach” – be a good driving role model and do not reflect any of these
traits in your driving
• If your teen exhibits such behavior and:
o Is driving on a permit, consider additional professional lessons and/or additional
practice driving with you. If these behaviors persist, don’t allow them to test for a
license until you are confident they have been eliminated.
o Has obtained their license, consider restrictions or revoking driving privileges until
such behaviors are eliminated.
Did You Know?
• 16% of fatal crashes involve driver distraction (anything that takes your focus off the road ahead)?
• Teens are the #1 age group for crashes due to driver distraction?
• People who text while driving are 23 times more likely to be in a crash?
• Talking on a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37%?
• Yet 19% of all drivers and 37% of 18 – 27 year-old drivers regularly send texts while driving?
Cell phones and texting are main culprits with teens but check out the results of a 2009 survey on the leading causes of distracted driving among men and women. There clearly are many causes of distracted driving and you may even do some yourself. Some are downright scary (shaving or reading while driving?). But you can reduce the risk of such incidents with your teen driver.
What You Can Do
We recommend parents do the following:
• Set a good example; much of a teen’s driving behavior is learned over the years from
watching their parents – don’t give them bad habits to copy!
• Turn cell phones off while driving or consider products that disable phones while the car is in motion except for certain numbers; new such technology is now available and more will be forthcoming
• Establish expectations about cell phones, texting, and all distractions upfront with your teen before they start driving; consider a “No Tolerance” policy and employing a teen driving contract to highlight expectations.)
In these long, hot days of August with families taking vacations or teens starting fall sports practice, fatigue can be a serious safety issue for drivers of all ages. Test your knowledge of driver fatigue by taking this quiz:
1. TRUE or FALSE: On longer expressway trips, you should take a “safety stop” at least every two hours or after 100 miles.
2. TRUE or FALSE: Fatigue does not influence your stopping distance.
3. TRUE or FALSE: Older people are at a higher risk of driver fatigue.
4. TRUE or FALSE: Drivers are more susceptible to fatigue during certain times of the day.
5. TRUE or FALSE: Coffee overcomes the effects of drowsiness while driving.
6. TRUE or FALSE: I can tell when I’m going to go to sleep.
7. TRUE or FALSE: Rolling down my window or singing along with the radio will keep me awake.
8. TRUE or FALSE: Most adults need at least seven hours of sleep each night.
9. TRUE or FALSE: Wandering, disconnected thoughts are a warning sign of driver fatigue.
10. TRUE or FALSE: A microsleep lasts four or five seconds.
Driver Fatigue Quiz — Answers
1. TRUE: On longer expressway trips, be aware of the onset of fatigue, drowsiness or just plain boredom—often referred to as “highway hypnosis”. To combat this, try to take a “safety stop” at least every two hours or after 100 miles. If you are traveling with others, change drivers.
2. FALSE: Total stopping distance is the sum of perception distance, reaction distance and braking distance. Fatigue can inhibit your perception and reaction time.
3. FALSE: Clearly, driver fatigue is a concern for everybody. However, according to SleepDeprevation.com, young people aged 16 to 29 are at higher risk for driver fatigue. Also, males are more likely than females to suffer from the condition.
4. TRUE: There are certain times of the day and night when our energy levels naturally dip. Between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., drivers are more at risk for experiencing driver fatigue.
5. FALSE: Stimulants are no substitute for sleep. Drinks containing caffeine, such as coffee or cola, can help you feel more alert, but the effects last only for a short time.
6. FALSE: Sleep is not voluntary. If you’re drowsy, you can fall asleep and never even know it. You cannot tell how long you’ve been asleep.
7. FALSE: An open window or the radio has no lasting effect on a person’s ability to stay awake.
8. TRUE: The average person needs seven or eight hours of sleep a night and young people need more sleep than adults.
9. TRUE: If you are driving and your thoughts begin to wander, it is time to pull over and take a break.
10. TRUE: During a “microsleep” of four or five seconds, a car can travel 100 yards or more, plenty of time to cause a serious crash.
Try to get a good night’s sleep before taking a long trip and be sure to take your “safety stops”!
Winter brings some of the most challenging road conditions of the year. When weather conditions
are less than ideal, first ask yourself if your trip is necessary. Sometimes delaying your trip for just
a couple of hours will give snowplows a chance to clear the roads and might allow time for the
temperature to rise enough to make a big difference in road conditions.
If you decide that conditions are satisfactory for driving, reduce your speed and increase your
following distance to allow for a longer stopping distance. Even if you operate a four‐wheel drive
vehicle with new tires, snow can accumulate in the grooves, reducing your grip on the road
After a heavy snowfall, plowed snow can obstruct your view, especially at intersections and
driveways. Don’t take chances. Stop then inch forward until you can see around the pile to check
for oncoming traffic. Don’t proceed until you are sure it is safe.
At intersections, make sure you scan ahead for vehicles approaching from a cross street because
they may not be able to stop and might slide through the intersection. Also, turning vehicles may
not be able to make the turn successfully and could slide into you. In light traffic, try to time your
approach so you do not reach the intersection at the exact time as another vehicle.
Finally, make sure you are prepared for the worst by having the proper equipment in your car. The
following are some items you might want in your vehicle, especially in winter conditions:
Small bag of abrasive material such as sand, salt or kitty litter
Small snow shovel
Devices such as flares or triangles
Remember to store these items in your trunk to prevent them from becoming flying objects or
interfering with the accelerator or brake pedals.
This time of year the days get shorter and the nights get longer, so you and your teen will
spend more time driving at night. Night driving is much more dangerous than daytime driving.
In fact, traffic fatality rates are three times greater at night than during the day. Why? The
answer is obvious: Limited visibility for you and other drivers. Depth perception, color
recognition, speed judgment and peripheral vision are all compromised after sundown.
So what can you do to make night driving safer? Here are a few suggestions:
• Reduce your speed and increase your following distance. At night you will have less
time to react because of the limited visibility. Give yourself some extra time by
slowing down and creating more space ahead of you.
• Turn on your low beam headlights. Even at dusk, low beams help others see you
• Use your high beams when it is safe and legal. Be sure to lower them as you
approach oncoming traffic or when following another vehicle. If you happen to
approach an oncoming vehicle with its high beams on, direct your eyes to the right
edge of the road to avoid being blinded.
• Make sure your windows are clean. Film buildup may be unnoticed during the day,
but at night or in late afternoon sunlight, this film can substantially diminish your ability
• Dim your dash lights. This reduces the glare within your vehicle.
• Avoid smoking when you drive. Smoke’s nicotine and carbon monoxide hamper night
• Proactively scan the driving environment for impaired drivers. At night you are far
more likely to encounter drivers impaired by drugs, alcohol or fatigue so be on the
Driving at night can be safe if you take the proper precautions.
Did You Know?
“April showers bring May flowers” but inclement weather also presents challenges for new
teen drivers. Wet roads and/or fog add complexity to driving:
• Driving too fast for the conditions and obscured vision due to weather or other
issues are the #2 and #10 factors, respectively in fatal crashes (National Highway
and Traffic Safety Administration study)
• Hydroplaning (where water between the roadway and your tires adversely affects
your ability to drive or steer) can occur at speeds as low as 30 mph!
Practice driving in such conditions, if done properly, can improve a student’s depth of
experience and make them safer drivers.
What You Can Do
We suggest all drivers do the following in adverse weather conditions:
• Reduce your speed – remember that speed limits are set for ideal conditions
• Increase your following distance (from the normal 3 seconds from the vehicle in
front of you to 5 seconds or more)
• Brake smoothly, evenly and early
• Try to avoid standing water; if safe to do so, change lanes
• Use your low beams to make yourself more visible (day and night) we encourage
you to have your teen practice driving in such conditions – but only when you feel
it is safe and they are adequately prepared to do so.
Recently, there has been much publicity about sticking accelerators in some cars and faulty
brakes in some trucks. While these cases are extremely rare, they could pose a very serious safety hazard. In each case, a driver would be operating a vehicle, potentially at a high rate of speed, without being able to use normal procedures to decelerate or stop. Hopefully, none of you will ever face this situation but, if you did would you (or your teen driver) know what to do?
Below are recommended procedures to most safely address each situation:
Stuck accelerator pedal
• Hook your toe under the accelerator and try to pull towards you
• If you cannot free the accelerator, shift into neutral and use the foot brake to slow down
• Put on your directional signal and select a safe spot to stop
• If your vehicle has a locking steering wheel or power steering, do not turn off the ignition because you will lose power steering or lock the wheel, making it impossible to steer
• Shift into neutral and/or use the emergency brake to slow down
• Put on your directional signal and select a safe spot to stop
• As above, if your vehicle has a locking steering wheel or power steering, do not turn off
the ignition because you will lose power steering or lock the wheel, making it impossible
It’s important to be prepared for the unexpected and we recommend that all drivers, veterans and beginners, mentally practice these steps. And always, drive at a safe speed and maintain a proper following distance in case an emergency occurs.
Just had my first lesson an it was terrific! Instructor was patient and gave useful tips. By the end of the lesson, I was much more confident and driving on major streets. I'm looking forward to my next lesson.
I had some problems calling different driving schools. I called up Warsaw and they literally were one of the nicest, most helpful people I have ever met. Thank you guys sooo much, I would totally recommend this place to anyone.