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So it’s time to start learning to drive! It’s an exciting time and there is so much information to take in, plus there are the steps to getting a license, GDL laws, and so much to learn! As you and your family begin navigating the path to becoming a licensed driver, here is some information to help you find your way and also help your parents make the transition from driving you around all the time, to helping you gain independence. This information is designed to be learned together, discussed, and shared with parents.
With fewer cars on the road, now is the time to practice driving with your teen. Check out this article for more information on the silver lining of social distancings: https://tti.tamu.edu/news/
Get stats and information on preventing teen driver crashes.
- Distractions – such as cell phones/texting and other teens in the car
- Driving at night
- Speeding and Street Racing
- Not wearing a seat belt
- Driving under the influence
Let’s Talk About GDL
Graduated Driver Licensing Laws are designed to give new drivers the chance to gain experience and improve their driving skills over time in lower risk environments. There are usually three phases:
- Driver Education consists of coursework and supervised driving
- Provisional Licensing where teen is driving in a controlled environment (passenger limitations and nighttime driving restrictions)
- Full driving privileges
It is important to remember that GDL Laws are the minimum prescribed laws to keep teens safe, but there are additional steps and recommendations you can and should take to help prevent car crashes.
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- Be the driver you want your teen to be.
- When you are driving with your teen in the car, talk through what you are doing and why, such as checking the mirrors, steps to changing lanes, looking around before accelerating at a green light, etc.
- Make sure everyone in your family abides by the zero tolerance for cell phone use while driving.
- Demand full seat belt compliance by every driver and every passenger.
- Know that each passenger, including siblings, in a teen’s car increases the likelihood of a crash.
- Don’t push a teen who, for whatever reason, is not ready to drive safely.
- Be prepared to support your teen as they gain experience and learn to make mature decisions behind the wheel.
- Allow your teen as much driving practice as possible (at least 50 hours), with you present.
- The first year of licensing is most dangerous. Continue to check in with your teen by riding with them to look for any new bad habits.
- Shared family vehicles are safer for young drivers.
- Involved parents have safer teen drivers. Talk through each driving trip before your teen leaves – gauge their state-of-mind, know where they are going, how they will get there, and their timeline. If your teen is stressed, tired, upset, or even too excited, they shouldn’t drive.
- Use the GDL as a baseline for rules. Many state GDL laws do not go far enough to protect young drivers.
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