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Goldman Law Offices

What you should know when your teen starts to drive

If you have a teenager who is ready to learn to drive, you may be secretly panicking inside at the thought of turning over your keys. With patience and wisdom, however, you can guide your teen through this important milestone just as you have through all the others. Here are a few things you should know before your teen gets behind the wheel:

  • Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL): Every state, including Pennsylvania, has a graduated program for learning to drive. In Pennsylvania, the learning stage begins at 16, and requires 65 supervised hours of driving over six months. That means you or another licensed adult must spend that time in the car with them. The intermediate stage restricts the number of unrelated passengers under 18 to one, and restricts nighttime driving between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. They receive the full license at age 17 if they have taken driver's education and did not have any accidents or convictions over the past year.
  • You are a role model: Like it or not, your teen is watching you behind the wheel to learn how to drive. In fact, they have been watching for a while now. Of course, you should talk to your teen about drinking and driving, distracted driving and even drowsy driving. But in the end, you must set the example. This also goes for good driving habits like buckling your seatbelt, checking lanes and using turn signals. 
  • Distracted driving: You are well aware of how easily teens are distracted, especially by electronics. Teens today are so used to texting all the time, they think they can do it automatically. Unfortunately, texting while driving increases a teens crash risk by 23 times. Encourage your teen to use the glove-box rule. Put the phone in the glove box, or somewhere else out of reach, while they are driving and do not take it out until they reach their destination. Other distractions include eating and drinking, playing music and putting on make-up. 
  • School zones: Will your teen be driving to school? If so, you should practice safe driving in a school zone with them. Unfortunately, teens are the one demographic to increase pedestrian fatalities in recent years. Just like distracted driving, teens have an issue with distracted walking. They are just not looking up, and often wear headphones while walking. Teach your teen to be on the lookout at all times for distracted walkers, especially around schools, and to drive more cautiously than normal. 
  • Obeying the law: Speeding is still a major factor in fatal crashes involving teens. Watching them carefully during the supervision phase will help. Studies show that speeding is a habit that gains momentum over time, so get them off on the right foot. Another important law to discuss with them is drinking or drug use while driving. You may think they know better, but you cannot emphasize it enough. In addition to the strict legal penalties, the safety risk is not worth taking. Unfortunately, teens do take that risk all the time. They are still the most at-risk group to die in an alcohol-related accident.

As a parent, you set the expectations and enforce the rules. Your teen's foray into driving might be a scary prospect for you, but remember that it is an exciting time for them. Driving is an important step toward adulthood. With your guidance, your teen is sure to become a careful and skilled driver.

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Goldman Law Offices

90 E. State Street
Doylestown, PA 18901

Phone: 215-348-2605
Fax: 215-348-5247
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