There is perhaps no greater feeling of independence for a teen than the first time they get behind the wheel on their own and perhaps no greater anxiety for a parent.

Here are a few statistics you and your teen must discuss before they drive out on their own.

  1. Motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death for teens ages 16-19.
  2. Carrying just one passenger increases the risk of a crash by 50% for 16 and 17-year-old drivers.
  3. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says teenage drivers and passengers are among those least likely to wear their safety belts.
  4. One out of every five licensed 16-year-olds will be in a vehicle crash.
  5. If you close your eyes for one second when driving 60 mph, you will have traveled 88 feet—think about that when talking about distracted driving.

Florida law helps by only allowing a 16-year-old driver to drive between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m.. If they drive beyond those hours they must either be accompanied by a licensed driver who is at least 21-years-old or be driving to or from work.  A 17-year-old driver is only allowed on the road between 5 a.m. and 1 a.m. The same after hours rules apply.

The Florida Department of Highway Safety has some great rules you can establish for your family:

  1. Enforce a passenger limit.
  2. Enforce safety belt usage for you teen and all passengers. Florida’s Primary Seat Belt law requires ALL drivers and front passengers to be buckled up and all passengers under the age of 18, no matter where they are sitting in the vehicle, to buckle up.
  3. Consider setting an earlier driving curfew, especially during the first six months of driving.
  4. Require your teen tell you exactly where they are going, who they will be with, when will they return and which route they will drive.
  5. Limit distractions. Prohibit cell phone use, eating and drinking in the car, adjusting the radio and passenger horse play.
  6. Do NOT allow your teen to drive while tired or overly emotional, which will up their chances of getting into a crash.
  7. Create a written contract with your teen highlighting the ground rules before they get the keys. If they violate the contract, enforce consequences.