First Year Driving Formula

There is no question, given the statistics available today, that the first year of solo driving is the most critical. The crash rate during this crucial time in a teen’s driving career will never be worse. The reason is that it takes experience behind the wheel to create a big enough “database” of hazardous situations in order to be able to recognize and appropriately respond to them when required. And there’s only one way to get that experience and that is to drive.

The most critical item to realize is that a novice’s drivers ed continues throughout this first year of solo driving. Just because the appropriate training was completed and there is a newly minted driver’s license in hand does not mean the driver is now a “journeyman” driver. There is still a long way to go and progressively increasing a teen’s driving responsibility can make that first year of driving much safer.

The following is a formula with specific guidelines that can be used by parents during that first year of their teen’s driving:

Month 1 (highest risk)

  • No passengers
  • No cell phone
  • Familiar streets
  • Only Daylight
  • Only Clear skies / dry roads

Month 2 (slightly lower risk)

  • No passengers
  • No cell phone
  • Add 2 routes
  • Daylight only Clear skies / dry roads

Month 3 (east to get complacent)

  • No passengers
  • No cell phone
  • Add 2 more routes
  • Allow high speed roads Daylight + 2 hours

Months 4-6 (night driving)

  • Only on known routes
  • No passengers
  • Good weather
  • No cell phone

Months 7-9 (passengers allowed)

  • Discuss passenger rules
  • Must wear seat belts
  • Limit of three
  • No cell phone

Months 10-12 (keep passenger rules)

  • Keep passenger rules
  • Prepare for independence
  • No cell phone

By having parents and their teens working from this set of guidlines, the first year of solo driving can indeed be much safer and less stressful for all involved. It also sets the stage for a lifetime of safe driving.

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