quicktipsAs parents, we worry about the safety of our children and wonder what our role is in keeping our new drivers safe. Consider that three out of four teens say their parents would be the best influence in getting them to drive safely.

The following tips will guide you as you help your teen become a safe driver:

Set an Example
Practice what you preach – use safe driving behaviors for your child to model.
There are plenty of “teachable moments” for you to share each time you ride in the car together.

Practice, Practice, Practice
The single most important factor in developing a safe driver is practice. It is recommended to devote at least 50 hours to teaching your teen to drive. You may want to use a Driving Practice Log to keep track weekly of how many hours you and your teen have driven together. You also may want to jot down skills practiced, those mastered, and new ones to work on:

Sample driving observation sheet
Step by step practice driving guide

Understand and Enforce New Jersey’s Driving Laws
Driving is a privilege — not a right! All drivers have important legal responsibilities. The New Jersey driving manual is the best resource for understanding the laws and regulations you and your teen need to know. This manual is available online or at any motor vehicle location.
Read information on the Graduated Driver License Program.
In addition the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (NJMVC) offers a Parent’s Guide to Teaching Teens Safe Driving.

Develop a Parent/Teen Driving Contract
To provide both you and your teen with a framework for setting and enforcing effective rules, it’s a good idea to create a written Parent/Teen Driving Agreement. According to research, teens whose parents limit initial driving privileges (like driving at night or with other teenage passengers) are less likely to engage in risky driving, to get tickets, and have crashes. Additionally, parent to parent and teen to teen contracts help create a network of support to keep teen drivers safe.

View samples of parent-teen agreements:
AAA, Allstate, Say Yes To Life

Discuss Unsafe Driving Situations
Your new driver has a lot to learn — and you play an important role in his or her education! Discuss these “key points” often to help your teen stay safe on the road.

Teach Your Teen to Anticipate Road Hazards
Even under the best conditions, driving has its risks. When special situations or hazards arise, paying attention to driving and making good decisions become even more vital. Teach your teen to anticipate potential problems and how to respond. Teach your teen to keep a margin of safety around the vehicle, look for a way out and develop a plan of action to avoid crashes. Take this interactive challenge with your teen to practice avoiding road hazards.

Help Your Teen Take Control
You’ve practiced driving with your teen and you feel confident that he or she knows what they need to do to be a safe driver. But when it comes to the moment, and when they are with friends who may want them to make unsafe choices, it’s harder for them to say what they need to say and do what they need to do.  Teach them to speak up for what they know is safe and right.

Choose a Safe Car for Your Teen
Considering teens in New Jersey are involved in a crash every nine minutes, safety needs to be a priority whenchoosing the car your teen will drive. Late model, mid and full size cars are often the best options. Be sure the car is equipped with air bags, electronic stability control and automatic breaking systems. To check the safety ratings of a car, please visit the NHTSA and IIHS. Avoid cars that have a sporty image, as they can encourage teens to speed.

Teach the Importance of Car Maintenance
It is important to keep a car in good working condition. Routine maintenance checks should be performed regularly – here’s an overview of car maintenance. Road emergencies occur often, from getting a flat tire, to over heating an engine. If your car does break down, it is important to talk to your teen about what to do. Make sure the car is equipped with a roadside emergency kit, or consider a roadside emergency service.

Know the Steps to Take After a Crash
You’ve spent so much time trying to help your teen avoid a crash, but it is also important to teach your new driver what to do if a crash does occur. Review this printable checklist with your teen and keep a copy in the vehicle.