How can I help my California teenager be a responsible driver?

All parents should talk to their teenagers about responsible driving habits in order to equip them with the skills necessary to navigate the roads safely.

According to the State of California Department of Motor Vehicles, 16-year-olds are 3.7 times more likely to get into a motor vehicle accident than a driver of any other age. Among the leading causes of incidents for fatal car accidents in which a 16- to 19-year-old was responsible are the following:

  • Speed
  • Improper turns
  • Alcohol or drugs

This paints a terrifying picture for parents who are preparing to hand over the keys to a new driver. However, through taking a few steps, parents can help mold teenagers into responsible drivers.

Have the conversation

One of the most important things a parent can do is talk to a teenager openly about the issues. Many young people may feel pressured to drink and drive or get into a vehicle with a drunk driver. Through discussing the situation ahead of time, a parent and child can make a plan for the "what ifs" that may arise. For example, experts recommend telling a teenager that he or she may call for a ride at any time, no questions asked.

It is also imperative that young drivers understand the consequences of their actions. As Distraction.gov points out, 15- to 19-year-olds represent the largest proportion of distracted drivers involved in fatal accidents.

Set a good example

Children learn by example, which is why parents should always drive responsibly. Put the cellphone in a glove compartment so a teenager learns that the device should never come into play while behind the wheel. Do not eat, groom or engage in any other kind of distraction while driving.

Further, parents should avoid any kind of aggressive driving or road rage-like behavior. Tailgating, cursing or gesturing at other drivers should be viewed as off-limits behavior.

Know the rules

California has strict laws in place for teenage drivers. For example, minors who hold a provisional license cannot transport anyone younger than 20 for the first year of licensure unless a parent or licensed driver is in the vehicle. Also, parents must give consent for a teenager to get licensed. Should the young driver act irresponsibly, parents are permitted to revoke their consent, which would cancel the license.

Taking the time to do these simple items can go a long way in keeping children safe. Anyone who has questions about this topic should speak to a personal injury attorney in California.

Our founding attorney, Scott J. Corwin, has more than 25 years of experience in representing victims of DUI and drunk drivers injured in all forms of motor vehicle, motorcycle, truck, pedestrian and bicycle accidents, in the Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, San Diego, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties and throughout the state of California.