The Teen Road To Safety: 9 Teen Driver Safety Tips In California

Teen Road to Safety: 9 teen driver safety tips in California

As a parent, there’s nothing more important than your child’s safety. That’s why it’s so important to start talking to your teen about safe driving practices as soon as they get their learner’s permit. There are also practices you can put in place to help them stay on the teen road to safety, instead of the teen road to danger.

The teen road to danger is very real and can be found in the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) 8 risk factors or “danger zones” for teen drivers. These danger zones represent the top risks for teenage drivers and result in the majority of accidents, injuries, and deaths.

We’ve put together a safety plan for teens based on the 8 danger zones and included critical teen driving safety tips and statistics. We’ve also included a template for a Parent-Teen Driver Agreement to help you communicate with your teen at the end of this article.

The Dangers And Risks Of Teen Driving 

According to the National Safety Council, a teen’s biggest threat is sitting in the driveway. The CDC reports that “motor vehicle crashes are the second leading cause of death for U.S. teens.”

The first 3 years of driving are the most dangerous. The risk of motor vehicle crashes is highest for teens aged 16-19 than in any other age group. This group is 3 times more likely to be involved in crashes than drivers aged 20 or older. 

Three other factors increase risk for teen drivers. Males, teens driving with peer-aged passengers, and newly licensed teens are all significantly more likely to be involved in car accidents.

The elevated risk for new teen drivers is why the California DMV has special laws during the first year of a teen’s licensure:

  • Teen drivers cannot carry passengers younger than 20 years old
  • Teen drivers are not allowed to drive between the hours of 11 pm and 5 am

Fortunately, engaged parenting can greatly decrease the risk of accidents and harm. Parents can help their teens understand the most dangerous driving behaviors and patterns and establish driving rules or a preventative plan to diminish risk.

The Top Risks For Teenaged Drivers: 8 “Danger Zones” 

  • Not using seatbelts
  • Nighttime and weekend driving
  • Speeding and reckless driving
  • Driver Inexperience
  • Distracted driving
  • Impaired Driving
  • Drowsy Driving
  • Driving with passengers younger than 20 years old

A 9-Point Safety Plan For Teens  

Enroll Your Teen In A High-Quality California Driver Safety Course 

Keeping your teen safe begins before they get their license. An 8-year study at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln reveals that completing a graduated driver’s education program “significantly reduces crashes and traffic violations for new teen drivers.”

While finding a good California driver safety course and a graduated driver program are the first steps to helping your teen stay safe, your teen’s driver education shouldn’t end there.

Persuade Your Teen To Use Their Seatbelt With Incentives And Consequences

About half of the teen drivers aged 16-19 who are involved in dangerous vehicle accidents aren’t using seatbelts. This substantially increases the rate of injury and death.

To help your teen avoid this, create a rule requiring them to wear their seatbelt at all times. Create consequences if they break this rule, as well as strong incentives or rewards when they follow it. 

Minimize Teen Driving At Night And On Weekends

Try to have your teen avoid late-night driving by setting a curfew for them and making sure they stick to it. The CDC recommends they get home by 9 or 10 pm. Second, encourage them to take public transportation or carpool with friends whenever possible. Finally, help your teen practice driving at night by driving with them as much as possible.

Address Speeding And Reckless Driving 

Several strategies can be employed to minimize teen speeding and reckless driving. One of the most effective is to lead by example. When teen drivers see their parents obeying the speed limit and following all the rules of the road, they’re more likely to do the same.

Help your teen practice things like making driving and speed adjustments during different road conditions and maintaining safe following distances. Finally, set clear expectations and consequences for speeding and reckless driving. One suggestion is to never pay for their speeding ticket.

Tackle Driver Inexperience By Helping Teens Practice After They’re Licensed 

The CDC has tips for parents wishing to minimize the dangers inherent in driver inexperience. They recommend helping your teen practice driving with various driving conditions, road types, and traffic conditions.

To accomplish this, establish strategic weekly or bi-monthly practice sessions when your teen takes you for a drive. Reward these with fun destinations or another incentive.

The CDC recommends you provide 30-50 hours of supervised driving practice during the teen’s first year of driving. Make sure to reinforce important things they’re likely to forget or miss, such as driver hand signals in California.

Minimize Distracted Driving By Educating Yourself And Your Teen About How Dangerous It Really Is

Distracted driving is one of the most dangerous driving behaviors and kills thousands of people a year.

For example, sending or reading a text while driving 55 mph is the equivalent of driving down a football field with your eyes closed.

Help your teen avoid this by creating strong rules about texting, emailing, or talking on the phone while driving. Most smartphones come with capabilities to automatically “turn off” certain functions during driving. Consider making sure your teen uses these, especially during the ages of 16-19. 

Educate Your Teen About Impaired Driving And Create Safe Alternatives 

One in 10 high school students drink and drive, and drivers aged 16-20 are 17 times more likely to die in a crash if their blood alcohol is .08% or higher. Impaired driving also includes illegal and prescription drugs or any substance that impairs mental functioning.

Parents can help minimize the risk of driving while impaired by discussing its dangers with their teens and setting clear expectations and consequences. It’s also important to provide teens with alternative options for transportation, such as arranging for a designated driver, or calling a taxi or Uber. Learn more about impaired teen driving here.

Help Prevent Drowsy Driving 

The best thing you can do to prevent accidents from drowsy driving is to stay abreast of your teen’s schedule and help ensure they get adequate rest. Be especially mindful of the nights before they need to get up early, such as driving to school in the morning. Help them establish good sleep hygiene by creating rules around things like turning off electronics and blue screens by a certain time of night. This will help your teen get enough rest. 

Prevent And Minimize Teen Passengers 

In California, a teen is not allowed to have a passenger younger than 20 years old for the first year of their licensure. This is because the risk of accidents and crashes increases substantially when teens drive together. Enforce this law with rules and incentives. Remember the danger ages of 16 to 19 and try to minimize teen passengers during these ages as much as you can. 

The Teen Road To Safety And A Parent-Teen Driving Agreement 

Making sure your teen is on the teen road to safety is achievable with education, communication, and support. This safety plan for teens should help. Consider making an agreement with your teen and be clear about driving rules and consequences. Check out this Parent-Teen Driving Agreement Template.