Sweet 16: Preparing for a Teen Driver

Raising children is rewarding but challenging. And it seems that as children grow they become more challenging. The desire for children – especially teenagers – to grow up and be their own person is strong. And at the same time, parents are desperately trying to hold on to the days of being needed. 

The ultimate goal of parenting is to prepare your child to be a healthy and well-rounded adult. Talk about a daunting task. There are many things to teach young children and teenagers.

Perhaps one of the most dreaded tasks is driving. Teenagers are anxious to get behind the wheel, but as parents we know that driving is much bigger than having a little more control.

And truth be told, the preparation for a teen driver doesn’t start on the child’s 16th birthday. In reality, parents need to start preparing themselves and their children for driving long before that milestone birthday. 

Parents should understand everything from permit requirements, driving practice, educational opportunities, and the all-important car insurance. But did you know you can, and should, get your child permit driver insurance?

Driving Timeline

The first step in preparing for a teen driver is understanding the timeline from permit to full license. Of course, parents have ventured through this same process, but the specifics can get a little fuzzy over time.

The exact process will vary from state to state, but there are general guidelines that hold true across all 50 states. So don’t forget to research your state specific requirements to be better prepared.

Before a teen driver can get a driver’s license, they have to get a driver’s permit. Most permit tests are given as written tests and tests a teenager’s knowledge of driving laws and regulations.The average age for a permit is 15 years old, but it can be as low as 14 or as high as 16. 

A permit has to be held for at least 6 months before a teen can take their driving test and get a driver’s license. During that 6 month period, the teen is expected to log time behind the wheel with a licensed driver. 

The amount of hours a teen driver needs to log, again, depends on the state. Regardless of the exact amount of hours, teen drivers will need plenty of time practicing, so be diligent about that process.

Finally, after completing the required amount of time practicing, the teen will be eligible for their driver’s test. With a passing score, the teen will receive a restricted license. This just means there are a few special restrictions to ensure the safety of the new driver.

A full, unrestricted license is usually granted when a teen reaches the age of 18, but states set their own limits. Some states grant an unrestricted license after just 9 months of driving.

Driver’s Education Options

A big part of parenting and the driving process is teaching. Parents have dozens, if not hundreds, of lessons to teach kids. And that’s even more true when it comes to driving.

Parents, in most cases, have had years of experience behind the wheel. These years of experience can easily translate into teachable moments with a new driver. But some parents can feel anxious or overwhelmed when it comes to driving.

The good news is you are more than capable of teaching your teen driver. In fact, study after study shows that the most beneficial educational option for young drivers comes from their parents. 

There are dozens of driver’s education programs out there, but parents are the first and most influential part of driver’s education. That doesn’t mean that other driver’s education programs should be ignored completely.

In fact, there are some states that require teen drivers to take a driver’s education course. Even if that isn’t a state mandated requirement, parents might want to enroll their teen for some extra review and practice.

These driver’s ed courses can be found in a lot of different places. Any driver can take an ed course online or through their local DMV. With a little research you can also find local, private programs that offer driver’s ed courses.

These courses can offer your teen a lot – everything from a review of driving laws and regulations, behind the wheel practice, learning about alcohol safety, and techniques for safe driving.

Car Insurance Before and After a License

Everyone wants tips on parenting a teenager because it’s an emotional and transitional time for everyone. While there isn’t an owner’s manual or guide for making it through those teen years, there are a few tips that can be especially helpful as your teen gets closer to driving.

The biggest concern for new drivers is safety. Driving is a dangerous privilege, but one that we all live with everyday. New drivers, however, are more likely to get into accidents. Knowing how to drive safely is a big help, but car insurance is another important piece to the puzzle.

A lot of parents know about car insurance after their teen driver gets their license. After all, car insurance is a legal requirement in all 50 states. But what about insurance before your teen driver gets their license?

A driver with a learner’s permit can’t get their own insurance coverage, but that driver will still be behind the wheel. This means insurance is still a good idea and best practice. Few insurance companies require a permit driver to be added to the family policy, but you should let your insurance company know your new driver will be using the family car more often.

When your teen gets their official driver’s license, you’ll need to add them to your car insurance policy. This is the best way to cut down on the expensive cost of insuring a new driver. But your car insurance provider can give you all the information you’ll need for that teen driver.

Driving is a big milestone, one that teenagers look forward to for years. But it’s also a huge responsibility. As parents, that responsibility starts with us. It’s important to get ahead of it and be prepared early. You, your teen, and other drivers on the road will thank you.

Laura Gunn writes and researches for the auto insurance comparison site, AutoInsurance.org. As a mother to children ranging from 21 to 2 years old, she’s passionate about parents being as prepared as possible for the milestone of teen driving.


TBN Editor

Time Business News Editor Team