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Preparing Teen Drivers to Be Safe on the Road: Tips for Parents

January 15, 2024

Having a new teen driver in the family is a big deal –  for both the child and the parent. It’s an exciting step, but one that can cause anxiety about your child’s safety. Thankfully, there are many Florida resources and programs designed to prepare teen drivers for the road.  

Here are helpful tips and free resources you can share with your teen before they get behind the wheel.  

Safe Driving Tips for Teens  

You can get your teen driver off to a strong start by teaching them good driving habits, including:  

Buckle Up: Always wear your seatbelt, and make sure all passengers do the same. Seatbelts save lives and reduce the severity of injuries in case of an accident.  

Minimize Distractions: Avoid distractions while driving, such as texting, talking on the phone or using social media. Focus on the road to maintain full control of your vehicle.  

Limit Passengers: In the early stages of driving, consider limiting the number of passengers in your car. Extra passengers can be distracting and increase the risk of accidents. Florida has laws limiting the number of passengers a driver under the age of 17 can drive with, as well as restrictions about driving during certain times of day. You can read more about Graduated Driver Licensing here. 

Obey Speed Limits: Follow posted speed limits. Speeding is a leading cause of accidents.  

Adjust for Weather Conditions: Slow down and adjust your driving to match the weather conditions. Rain and fog can make roads slippery, requiring extra caution.  

Avoid Reckless Driving: Reckless driving, including aggressive behaviors like tailgating or weaving in and out of traffic, increases the likelihood of accidents.  

Use Turn Signals: Indicate your intentions by using turn signals. This helps other drivers predict your movements and reduces the risk of collisions.  

Observe Traffic Signs and Signals: Pay attention to traffic signs, signals and road markings. They provide important information and guide you safely through traffic.  

Be Mindful of Blind Spots: Check your blind spots before changing lanes. Be aware of other drivers’ blind spots as well to avoid accidents.  

Practice Defensive Driving: Anticipate potential hazards and be prepared to react defensively. Always be aware of your surroundings.  

Night Driving Caution: Driving at night requires extra caution. Make sure your headlights are on and be mindful of reduced visibility.  

Practice, Practice, Practice: The more you practice, the more confident and skilled you’ll become. Practice driving in various conditions and environments to build experience.  

Instilling these skills and good habits in teen drivers can prepare them to respond to different situations they may encounter on the road. It’s better to practice now when they are in a controlled environment than in a crisis situation.  

Resources for New Teen Drivers 

Thankfully, it’s not all on you to ensure your teen learns everything they need to know to be safe on the road. Taking a driving course, whether in person or online, can build skills and confidence.  A few educational resources and courses available in Florida include:  

Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles – Resources for Teens and Parents. This page is a great starting point and includes the driving handbook and information about obtaining a license.  

Florida Virtual School (FLVS) – Driver Education. FLVS offers online driver education courses approved by the Florida DHSMV. These courses cover traffic laws, safe driving practices and other essential topics for teen drivers. The best part – it’s free for Florida students.  

United States Department of Transportation – Teen Driving. The NHTSA offers resources on teen driving safety, including statistics, educational materials and campaigns.  

The Florida Sheriffs Association’s Teen Driver Challenge (TDC). This comprehensive program, which includes lectures and driving exercise, is offered at no cost to teen drivers in 41 counties across the state of Florida and led by sheriffs’ deputies licensed as commercial driving school instructors. Find a program near you.   

Equipping Teen Drivers in Florida  

According to the CDC, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among teenagers. As the parent of a new driver, you want to do everything in your power to keep your teen safe behind the wheel. The Teen Driver Challenge was created to help prevent Florida teens from becoming a statistic.  

The Florida Sheriffs Association is proud to offer the Teen Driver Challenge to students at no cost and welcomes corporate sponsors and individual donors to help us offset the costs for this important program.   

You can support the TDC by making an online donation. Thank you for supporting our efforts to keep Florida’s teens – and all other drivers – safer on the road.