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Every teenager looks forward to getting their driver’s license. Likewise, every parent is equally as excited to watch their son or daughter grow up to face new experiences and challenges.

Along with this excitement, however, there is an element of worry. Parents know that driving can be fun and liberating, but that it can also be dangerous. In Australia, young drivers (those aged 17-25 years) account for a quarter of all road deaths.

According to the Young Driver Fact Base, a 17-year-old driver with a P1 licence is 4 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than a driver aged more than 26 years.

The numbers alone are likely to strike fear in the heart of any parent of a prospective or new teen driver. The good news is that there are steps you can take to help your teenage son/daughter to drive safely.

Here are our Top 5 driving tips for your teenager to “Be Safer and Drive Smarter”:

1. Parental Involvement Matters:

Teens with parents who set rules and pay attention to their activities in a helpful, supportive way are less likely to crash.

How to drive smarter: Lead by example and talk openly to your teens about expectations for when your child is behind the wheel: communicate key messages such as don’t drink and drive, wear a seat belt, focus on the road, never text while driving.

2. Curfews are Key:

Research shows that young drivers have more crashes at night, compared to drivers aged 25 years or older.

How to drive smarter: Set a curfew to keep teenage drivers off the road during the hours of 9pm-6am.

3. Limit Passengers:

For teenagers, the relative risk of a fatal crash increases as the number of passengers increases.

How to drive smarter: Put a cap on the number of passengers allowed in your teen’s car.

4. Out of Sight, Out of Mind:

Driver distraction has been estimated to account for around one quarter of car crashes. Talking or texting on a mobile phone while driving can dramatically increase the likelihood of an accident.

How to drive smarter: Follow this advice: ignition on, cell phone off.

5. Speak Up:

A recent survey revealed that less than half of teens would speak up if someone were driving in a way that scared them.

How to drive smarter: Empower and encourage teenage drivers to exercise their rights as passengers.

A parent-driver contract is one way to ease concern for parents of new drivers and establish a basis of trust. A contract provides the opportunity to form an open line of communication between parents and teenagers about the importance of safety and the expectations that come with the new and profound responsibility of driving.

To download a free parent-driver contract, or other resources to empower your teenager to learn to drive and to drive safely, visit Aussie Driver.

Car” image from Shutterstock
  • I’m currently teaching both my 17 year old son (L2’s) and 16 year old daughter (L1’s) to drive. It’s certainly an experience!

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  • When our daughter got her Ls, she was living an 1 1/2 hour from us to attend school. So it was really hard for us to teach her to drive. Luckily, we found a volunteer learn to drive course close to where she was living. So they would teach her through the week, driving through the city. She came home for weekends and would drive round here, on country roads, then drive herself back home. Took a while to clock up the hours, but she’s a top little driver!

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  • Good tips! Very interesting! Thanks for sharing this!

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  • For a start, don’t let your teenager but any body part outside the window.

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  • 1. If you are in a street do not allow your arm or hand to protrude out your window as in the photo. It is an offence to do so. I wonder how many people are aware of this law.
    2. if a L or P plater drives your car make sure they remove it from view when not driving it or you could be in trouble.
    3. Apparently it is also illegal for a person under the age of 16 to put fuel in a vehicle at a service station. I was totally unaware of that.


    • yes gotta be wary of this stuff for sure.

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  • Thank you! Important tips!

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  • Thank you for sharing a good read

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  • My eldest is 15 and I’m scared lol Great article.

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  • Great advice, curfews are a must.

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  • These tips will be handy for me when I get my p’s in January thank you

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  • Great article. Thanks for sharing. Nice information to know.

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  • Such a worrying time, they’re so excited, you’re so scared (will I think I will be). I think they should aim to be in by a certain time but I’d then worry that they’d rush to make that time & have an accident. I wonder if a gps on the car might be a good idea after my boss’s daughter had an accident, went off the side of the road & wasn’t visible…. they had a find my phone thing set up & checked this when she was hours late home…. & found her. She was trapped & couldn’t reach her phone, so luckily they found her.

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  • One thing that is not explained enough to young drivers is to drive to the conditions – e.g. in bad visibility – often in foggy or wet weather allow extra space away from the vehicle in front of you. It is harder to see the vehicle in front of you and therefore harder to see their brake lights. Your vehicle takes longer to come to a halt on damp/wet surfaces. Make them aware that even in Summer fog can occur in hilly areas as happened to us in the Adelaide hills heading towards Adelaide one night even though it was still daylight. It was a horrid experience. It was like suddenly driving into a white wall and a few km later I was sunlight. It was so bad that my brother “crawled” down the freeway. Some idiotic drivers were “flying past us” as though we were standing still. We could hear some of them even though we had the car windows shut. We barely saw the soft glow of their headlights as they passed us and hoped they didn’t cut across too close in front of us as we couldn’t see them. At one point he parked in the emergency lane as visibility was close to zero even for us with 10/10 vision. At least none of the trucks sped past us. The “cowboys” seemed to be in powerful cars or we wouldn’t have been able to hear them. Their lights are higher, larger and much easier to see. I know of one who actually delayed leaving the Depot until he was notified that the fog had cleared. Also the white (and yellow) lines painted on the road can be slippery when damp and very slippery when it is/was raining, especially if you are forced to stop at traffic lights. Also when changing lanes. (even white lines on motorsport circuits are often slippery). Any oil dropped on roads by vehicles often isn’t visible at all when roads are wet. It also causes cars to slide or spin around —-. Not just when the road is wet.

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  • All good ideas, we added a couple more. We live in a rural area, and for the first 3 months they wernt allowed any passengers other than us. We also didn’t have a curfew as such. As long as they were home at a reasonable hour. I didn’t want to set a curfew, say midnight, only for them to loose track of the time, and then speed to get home on time, and have an accident. They never abused this. They were always home at a reasonable hour. We also got them to do a defensive driving course.
    No matter what, you always worry till they are home safe and sound

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  • The best way to encourage your children to be safe drivers is to be a good role model.

    Reply

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