4 Tips for Keeping Everyone Safe & Sane with a Teenage Driver

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I couldn’t wait to turn 16! The journey to get my driver’s license seemed simple 25 years ago. 

I attended Driver’s Education, also known as Driver’s Ed, during first hour of my sophomore year. Coach Smith taught the basics, ran the computer simulator, and told horrible jokes. Got my book knowledge, check!

I practiced my driving skills in my mom’s Honda Accord. She was a gentle and patient instructor. When I braked a bit late or nicked the curb with the back tire following a right turn, she would give me words of affirmation then deeply exhale. Got my street skills, check!

I took my driver’s exam. The intense administrator used a command testing approach with a ‘go right’ and ‘parallel park here’. I overcame sweaty palms and extreme perfectionism to pass with a 95 percent. Got my driver’s license, check!

Three checkmarks and I was free to get behind the wheel and wave goodbye to my mom.

Fast forward to the last six months where I was the stepmom in the passenger seat as my stepson worked towards his driver’s license.

The journey today is very different, more sophisticated (for the better), a bit overwhelming with the number of checkmarks and expense. Get ready!

#1 – Driver’s Ed may not be offered in high school. 

Each school district determines if state-approved Driver’s Ed classes will be offered. Check with your teen’s school counselor.

If your school does not offer Driver’s Ed, then you have options. The first option is to use the parent-taught curriculum where you become the instructor. The second choice is to enroll your teen in a local driving school that comes with a price tag.

Driving schools across metro Oklahoma City offer a variety of packages to ensure your new driver is ready to get behind the wheel. Sign-up early because the classes fill up quickly!

#2 – Oklahoma follows a Graduated Driver License (GDL) model for students age 15 to 18.

Based on the student driver’s age and license, there are defined privileges and requirements. You can find detailed information here from the Department of Public Safety.

Make sure to pay close attention to the curfews and passenger requirements. Any citations while on a restricted license will result in significant delays in your student driver getting an unrestricted license.

No one wants a grumpy teen.

#3 – Adding a student driver impacts your budget and all insurance coverages. 

It is important to visit with your insurance agent to discuss your insurance coverages, understand your liabilities, and take advantage of discounts. Availability of coverages and discounts vary by insurance carrier, which is why a personalized conversation is a must.

Good grades and passing driver’s ed should decrease your premiums. If not, start shopping for a new insurance carrier. 

In a co-parenting situation, both parents should understand who will insure the student driver, what coverages will be purchased and how the insurance premiums will be paid. If the other parent is carrying the student driver on his or her policy, make sure to discuss how a claim will impact you financially and how your insurance coverages will or will not pay.

#4 – The Parent-Teen-Driver Agreement is a must. 

Parents Are the Key, a campaign from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), helps parents, pediatricians, and communities keep teen drivers safe on the road. The Parent-Teen-Driver Agreement promotes an interactive conversation between parents and the teen about the expectations, accountability, and consequences that come with driving.

Warning! Your student driver may think it is overkill or may have an ‘I am invisible and perfect’ attitude.

Please, please forge ahead.

This is an opportunity to empower your teenager while setting clear expectations and consequences, which every minor needs.

It is worth it, believe me!

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