Attention Parents Of Teen Drivers: 40% Of You Don't Know . . . 75% Of You Are Mistaken

I’m Old Enough To Be Children’s Grandfather. However, Having Recent Experience As A Parent Of 2 Teen Drivers (One Boy Now 25, One Girl Now 18), A USA Today Story Was Of Interest To Me And I Thought It Could Help Others Who Are In This Situation Of Parenting Teen Drivers.

The article by Larry Copeland ( Indicates That 40% Of Parents, In A Recent Survey, Don’t Know That Crashes Are The Leading Killer Of Teenagers. Also, The Survey Found That 75% Mistakenly Thought Risk Taking And Distractions ( Both Important Factors) Were The Leading Causes Of The Crashes, When It Is Actually Driver Inexperience.

The teenage driving years can be a scary time for parents of young drivers, but gaining some knowledge and monitoring and guiding the kids is the responsibility of the parents.

I really believe that raising safe drivers starts long before the teenage years. I think raising responsible, respectful children goes a long way toward raising careful, safe drivers (My insurance company thinks so, too, giving discounts for good grades).

Choosing safe vheicles that help protect driver/passenger in the event of “inexperienced driver” errors is important, too.
What do you think ?


This is why I recommend buying a safe car, rather than a cheap car, for teens. Of course driver skill is a factor, but teens don’t have it. Doesn’t matter if they’re straight A students, they lack both the experience and the judgment that older drivers have.

Aside from military service or a life of crime, driving a car as a teen is the most dangerous thing a person will do in their lifetime.

I wholeheartedly agree with Texases. Except that I’d reinterpret the definition of a “safe car”.

To me, a “safe car” for a new driver is one that has good visability, modern crash protection (like side airbags), and is forgiving of the mistakes that new drivers typically make, like going into turns too fast, waiting until the last second to brake, and not being aware of the “footprint” their car is taking up. To me that means a car of modest size with good upright seats and good visability, no unnecessary power, a good track and wheelbase, and a low center of gravity.

Unfortunately, economics plays a part. Kids often start out with the family’s second car, often a JEEP or SUV, or even an old beater with minimal crash protection. These simply are not the best vehicles for new drivers, but of your son or daughter needs a car to get to and from college and your budget is limited, that may be the only option.

REALLY becoming involved with your child’s learning process is a major, major factor as well (too many parents do not). It takes more than just the 40 requisite (in NH) hours riding with them and actively teaching them to really form good driving behaviors.

I wish I had an answer. But I have to live with reality just like most folks.

Been there, done that…doing it again !
Daughter and son, now 36 and 30.
Sister-in-law’s grand kids now in my household , ages 7, 9, & 13.

The 13 year old is practicing already and we talk constantly about driving situations like pull out timing, who’s turn it really is, speed for conditions, texting and phoning, eating and radio, etc.
She is an easily bored type and always looking for the next thing to do…this scares me the most. She’s not content to just ‘‘cruise’’ in life so what will driving bring with her ?

I don’t think I’m buying this one her own anytime soon though, we have three trucks in the driveway now for two drivers, but as the boys grow up …we’ll see.

I better have her read the news piece.

Been there a few times myself.

All Great Feedback.

Safe cars, yes. That is a real problem, trying to find a safe vehicle, while keeping the reality of economy in mind.

I forgot about grandchildren and the replay of this teen driver thing. Yikes ! That could be me some day.


Here’s one recipe for a reasonably safe car:
Intermediate (heavier is safer, intermediates do well)
4-door (at least for guys it reduces the ‘Ricky Racer’ effect)
4 cyl (no turbo, no V6)
side air bags (major plus in a T-bone accident)
10 years or less old (newer cars have generally better safety equipment)

From there one can review the various crash results if they like.

So it doesn’t have to be a new car, or an expensive car.

We had one-son, now 28.
When he became eligible I discovered the insurance rates really, really went up. We consequently kept him on Learner’s Permit, which gave him time to gain experience but relieved us of the physical driving. We made a lot of useless weekend drives other than to gain varied driving experiences.

He didn’t need a car at his residential college. He did gain his license at age 20 and then our rates did not increase by much because he was only an occasional driver, more than 500 miles away, good grades.

He should be looking at a new car since he’s driving the car he learned on, 97Camry. But again he only drives on weekends and to the gym on weekdays. Collision safety is more of a factor for getting a new auto rather than the Camry’s reliability. Newer cars are safer but the only “accidents” has been when the car was parked-

You have to remember that the only way you know the limits of a car is if you exceed those limits. Can’t remember exactly who but in Minneapolis there is a teen driving school that takes kids out on ice and test pads so they can learn the car limits and how to control the car. Once in a skid is no time to discover how to recover. Might be a little pricey but so is death.

Fuel economy is secondary. Most teens don’t drive enough to make gas a large expense. We had a 1998 Regal for our kids. A couple of them had low speed accidents; one spun out after hydroplaning. But all are safe. And full size GM cars (LeSabre) get the same mileage as mid-size (Regal).

" Fuel economy is secondary. Most teens don’t drive enough to make gas a large expense. "

I agree with this statement by JT. Although my daughter drives quite a bit, her minimum is a 40 mile round trip every day to town/High School, and sometimes puts on 100 miles or so in a day, I’ve got her in a large car with front and side air bags and ABS.

She has been driving this many miles 7 days/week for over 2 years, beginning when she turned 16. She’s into all kinds of sports and works, too. We live in the country and have really lousy weather conditions. We’ve had about 10 days of school closing due to weather this winter and they don’t chicken out easily.

Gas has never been as much a consideration as safety. I will never regret only 30 mpg hwy atttained by the Impala, but would never forgive myself if she got badly hurt driving an economy car to save a couple of bucks.

Getting the children safely to adulthood is a parent’s responsibility. As a former teenager, now reformed, I know for fact that teenagers doon’t always make the best decisions. That’s what grown-ups are for.


I was fortunate to have a Driver’s Ed instructor that went the extra mile. (no pun intended) He was a weird dude, but I think that’s a requirement to be an instructor. “Ken” would reach over and put his foot on top of yours on the gas and floor it: “Your accelerator’s stuck, what do you do now?” He showed us that the brakes could slow the car down, even with the gas floored, and to shut off the engine when it’s safe. He also let us do donuts in a grassy field with the car, put the car on a hill so it was stationary at idle with the brakes off, then turned on accessories until the car began to move backwards, showing us the alternator was making a drain on the engine. Not really related to safety, but did help people understand the car they were driving. He’d also play “Beat er to the brakes” where he’d have us anticipate the person in front of us slowing down and hit the brakes first, and showed us how you could use the reflection off a wet road to see that the person ahead of the person in front of you was hitting their brakes.

A favorite thing for him to do to students was innocently have them turn on a local street where the street was built to accommodate a huge oak tree and splits around both sides of it immediately after you turn: “You ever see a tree jump in front of your car?” It usually had the desired effect of making the fledgling driver saw the wheel one way then the other to swerve around the tree.

I have to wonder how many of us were safer drivers and less fearful drivers from his teaching methods. The cars suffered a bit though :slight_smile:

@Oblivion, Good Story.
Reminds Me Of My Private Pilot Flight Instruction Days. Anticipating And Reacting To Emegency Situations (engine out - dead stick landings, aborted take-offs, icy runways, lost radio/navigation communications, wing stall recovery, etcetera) Is Part Of All Aviator Training.

I think driver’s training teachers should be taught some of the methods employed by your former teacher and be required to somehow safely include them in lessons. Parents can enroll their children in classes that teach advance driving skills, but it’s expensive and not always available in everyone’s locale.

It’s the unexpected things that happen to drivers, especially inexperienced drivers, that get them in trouble. Why not talk about what some of these things can be and prepare young folks to react to them in a more controlled manner ?

More needs to be done in this regard to better prepare drivers for real-life driving. Panic is not a good substitute for preparation.


but it can help you deal with unexpected situations a little better. Learn to control your fear, even if it’s just a little bit.