It’s that time—your teenager is ready to learn how to drive. Most parents experience a mix of emotions, including relief that there will be an additional driver in the family in case of emergencies, excitement that the need to ferry their child to and from school and elsewhere is ending, and trepidation due to the risks all drivers face every time they get behind the wheel. Those initial rides in the car with your youngster driving will likely trigger nerves, especially when they make rookie driver mistakes or simply because your baby is now controlling a multi-ton vehicle.
Becoming a licensed driver is a rite of passage. The good news is that you can coach your child and set a good example for safe driving. Following the tips provided herein should help you not only feel less nervous every time your teen drives off somewhere but also make them the kind of driver we all want to share the road with—cautious, courteous, safe, and smart.
Rules and Eligibility to Drive for California Teens
The age at which your teen may apply for a driving instruction permit is 15-and-a-half, with provisional license eligibility at 16 years of age. This means by their mid-teens, your child is allowed to drive alone under the following restrictions (with limited exemptions for situations like medical necessity):
- Only driving during the hours of 5:00 am and 11:00 pm unless accompanied by an adult over 25 or with a parent or guardian who has their full driver’s license
- No passengers under the age of 20 during the first 12 months, unless one other passenger is a fully licensed parent/guardian or grownup over 25 years old
Now that we’ve reviewed the basics, here are some suggestions to reduce your anxiety over your young driver.
Encourage Safe Teen Driving
Model safe driving behaviors whenever your child is in the car. Don’t panic if you have not always done so—no one is perfect. Use any mistakes you have made as teaching opportunities and remember that it is never too late to start leading by example (e.g., wearing your seatbelt).
Teach your youngster about the dangers of road rage. Losing their temper while driving can lead to dangerous encounters and accidental or deliberate collisions.
Establish clear rules about keeping cellphones put away while driving. Distracted driving is one of the top causes of car crashes, especially among novice drivers. If your teen needs the GPS on their phone, arrange for them to have a fully hands-free option with voice activation and audio, so they can keep their eyes on the road.
Discuss the risks of speeding, drinking, using marijuana or other drugs and set consequences for driving recklessly. It is reasonable to take a new driver’s keys away even after licensed if they violate any of these boundaries. Maturity means more than reaching a certain age—it is demonstrating a healthy respect for the safety of themselves, others, and the law.
Practice makes perfect. Yes, you might be uneasy during those practice drives, and yes, your teen will likely make mistakes. However, even if you’ve hired a driving instructor, you should also take time each day to take your child on practice drives. California law requires at least 50 hours of practical driving experience, ideally on all kinds of roadways and in various weather conditions. Provide guidance… but avoid nagging or backseat driving.
Call Auto Accident Attorney Scott J. Corwin
No one wants to think about their child being harmed due to an automobile accident. Unfortunately, not all drivers regardless of age are as careful and conscientious as they should be. If the unthinkable becomes your reality, make sure your youngster receives justice by contacting Scott J. Corwin, A Professional Law Corporation.
Contact our office today by calling (310) 683-2300 or filling out the online contact form to discuss the details of your case and learn more about how we can help you. We offer free consultations, so there’s no reason not to reach out to someone from our team right away.