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Tips to Help New Teen Drivers

Apr 30, 2024Library

Amanda Lovette, MD, Delta Health Pediatrics

There are routinely a few times in a parent’s life when fear or anxiety rear their ugly head and we worry excessively about our children.  The first day they go to school can be one of those days.  The first boyfriend or girlfriend they have.  And – the one that got me the hardest? The day they get their driver’s license.

My mind went through every possible scenario, and none of them were good.  I lost sleep for a week or more, being worried about how my boy was going to drive.  Did I teach him enough?  I didn’t talk to him about this or that, and what if he is confronted with this or that while driving?  Will he know what to do? For the most part, my fears were unfounded, but I did have moments of fear and anxiety regarding his driving.

How can you help your teen (and yourself) when they are a new driver and just don’t have much experience?

Demonstrate safe driving 

First, you can do no more important thing than demonstrate to your young driver how to drive well.  Be a good example.  Don’t cut people off, don’t speed, don’t “drive crazy”.  Your teen is watching your every move even if you don’t think so, and her ideas about driving well and driving safely come mostly from you.  Wear your seatbelt – ALL THE TIME!  Use your blinker to notify other drivers you are turning.  Do not drive after having consumed alcohol or taken drugs. Don’t text or talk on your cellphone while driving.  Keep your hands on the wheel at all times.  Don’t speed.  Your teen is monitoring your behavior and making assumptions based on what you are doing as to what is acceptable.

Drive with them even after a license

Take your teen driving, even after she gets her license.  She is new at this – there is always room for teaching and she can benefit from your experience. Let her drive you everywhere, and GENTLY let her know if you see something she could do better or differently.  No yelling – your teen will shut down and avoid driving you anywhere.

Establish clear rules

When she first starts driving, even before she gets her license, establish very clear rules about what behaviors are acceptable and which are not.  Some families even write down the rules so that there is no ambiguity about what rules are in place.  Discuss your expectations regarding phone usage, who is allowed in the car, how far away the teen should be allowed to drive, how late the teen can drive, who is allowed in the car with the teen (and each state has their own laws regarding young drivers so you will want to consult state laws about who is allowed to ride with your teen and when.

The other thing you will need to establish when you set these rules in stone is what the penalty/punishment will be if your teen breaks one of these rules.  As most of you know, teens like to push boundaries, so if they break a rule and there is not a significant punishment, they may feel the risk of breaking the rule is less than that of the punishment and it may be harder for them to follow the rules. The punishment needs to involve something very important to them, and you know your teen best so you know what that would be.  However, most teens will be quite willing to follow the rules if their driving privileges are at risk of being revoked.  Follow through on that punishment – the teen needs to respect and believe that you mean what you say.

Maintaining a safe vehicle

Be sure to have the car your teen is driving routinely maintained – check the tires and the oil pressure, the windshield washer fluid – make sure this car is safe for your teen to drive.  Make car maintenance a learning experience.  Tell your teen if she wishes to drive the vehicle, she must also learn how to maintain it well.

Your teen is embarking on a new and exciting experience – the ability to drive herself.  There’s an independence to that that she will really enjoy.  Just make sure you have everything in place so that her experience is as safe and fun as possible.

For more information, contact Delta Health Pediatrics at 970.546.4000 or visit Delta Health Pediatrics has walk-in appointments available Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. as well as same-day appointments available Monday through Friday. Please call the clinic to schedule an appointment.

More tips, articles and videos from Dr. Lovette can also be found online by joining the Healthy Kids Western Slope Facebook Group at



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