D. Gilson is a writer and author of essays, poetry, and scholarship that explore the relationship between popular culture, literature, sexuality, and memoir. His latest book is Jesus Freak, with Will Stockton, part of Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 Series. His other books include I Will Say This Exactly One Time and Crush. His first chapbook, Catch & Release, won the 2012 Robin Becker Prize from Seve...

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer

UPDATED: Jul 19, 2021

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Want to raise your blood pressure? Teach a teenager how to drive. If you’re about to let your child on the road, no doubt you’ve been coaching them on safe driving techniques. And if the safety of your progeny isn’t enough, avoiding normal teen driving mistakes will keep your car insurance rates low. Here are seven tips for parents to help maintain their sanity:

  1. Start Young

    Transportation should always be a part of life. Teach young children about travel, and speak to them intelligently about driving from a young age. Emphasize the benefits of responsible travel behavior and safety. Bonus points for including energy conservation and emissions in the conversation.

  2. Drive With Pride

    Drive responsibly when with your child, and have conversations about the driving process. Your driving will set the example for your teen. Point out when someone (including yourself) commits a driving offense, but avoid giving in to road rage.

  3. Make Your Negatives Positive

    If you’ve got to criticize a young driver, do it in a positive way. Offer positive feedback first, then proceed to corrective comments. Your goal is to empower your teen to drive safely and competently, not to scold. Try asking questions about their decision-making process versus screaming at them on a crowded highway.

  4. Outsource It

    If you don’t feel comfortable teaching your teen to drive, enlist (read: pay) a friend or tutor to act as a mentor. Better yet, send your child to driver’s education school. Just make sure you know your state’s requirements before letting your teen loose on the open road.

  5. Monitor Unnecessary Driving

    A young driver should concentrate on gaining meaningful road experience, but they’re likely to have their eyes on a different prize. Don’t let your teen drive to social events if they’re not ready — especially if they are likely to have teen passengers or access to alcohol. Motor vehicle crashes account for more than one-third of all teen deaths, and crashes are more common with teen passengers in the car.

  6. Find Ease With the Five Keys

    The Smith System is a set of driving techniques encouraging intuitive, proactive decisions. The system’s “Five Keys” are as follows: 1) look far ahead; 2) get the big picture; 3) keep your eyes moving; 4) leave yourself a traffic out; 5) make sure other drivers see you.

  7. Nothing Tops Blood on the Highway

    It’s a gruesome truth. Be as sensitive as you can, but don’t think twice about firm discussions with your teen regarding driving safety. Even service provider AT&T is buying commercial time on television to share distracted driving horror stories from accident victims and their families.

  8. Distracted driving accounts for 6,000 highway deaths per year, and teenagers are involved in three times the fatal crashes of other age groups. Educate and teach your young driver to exercise proper caution and care when alone on the open road. Learn more about teen driving facts here.