Driving Smart

Parents have good reason to be concerned when their teen gets behind the wheel. Young, inexperienced drivers are the most crash-prone drivers on the road. 1,4,5

FACT: Drivers 15 to 20 years old have nearly 20-percent more fatal car crashes than any other age group. 4

Help your teen beat the odds
Driver education classes are just the beginning. Coach your teen about roadway hazards and safe driving principles. Don’t just talk about them at the kitchen table; get in the car together and see what your teen is doing.

Remind him or her:

  • “No drinking alcohol.”
  • “Buckle up.”
  • “Slow down and respect the speed limit.”
  • “No phone calls or text messaging.”
  • “Here’s how to recognize danger on the road...”

Enforce limits
Chances of a fatal crash increase with each additional passenger, and the risks are greatest at night and on the weekends. 1,4

To reduce danger:

  • Limit number of passengers
  • Limit nighttime and weekend driving

You may also want to limit how and when your teenager rides with another teen driver.

Follow the Graduated Drivers License Law
Most states offer graduated driver licensing (GDL), an approach that phases in privileges for new drivers. Starting with driving in less hazardous situations, beginning drivers are not allowed to drive at night or with teen passengers in their vehicle. Only when they have gained experience are they allowed to “graduate” to drive in these more risky situations. Parents need to be aware of the laws in their state and make sure that their teens are obeying them. GDL programs prevent about one in five crashes for 16-year-old drivers. 4

Learn more about:


1. Bingham, C. Raymond; Shope, Jean; Parow, Julie; Raghunathan, Trivellore. Crash risk among teen drivers: Identification and prediction of excess risk. The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, Ann Arbor, MI (UMTRI-2007-13). November 2007. Read more

2. Bonnie, Richard J. and O'Connell, Mary Ellen (Editors) Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility, Committee on Developing a Strategy to Reduce and Prevent Underage Drinking, Board on Children, Youth, and Families, National Research Council (2004) Read more

3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance — United States, 2007.” Surveillance Summaries, June 6, 2008 / Vol. 57 / No. SS-4. Read more

4. Compton, Richard P. and Ellison-Potter, Patricia. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “Teen Driver Crashes: A Report to Congress” (DOT HS 811 005) Read more

5. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “Beginning Teenager Drivers.” Read more


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