Dr Hans Rauk

The rules… It is important to establish rules for your teen driver.  Here are some suggestions that have worked for other families.  
Ban cell phones while driving.  Distractions, including cell phones, are factors in at least 50% of crashes.  As a parent you might consider your use of cell phones while driving as well.
Insist on seat belts.  Two-thirds of teen occupants killed in crashes aren’t wearing them.
Set a good example.  Research shows if you speed, tailgate, or run red lights, your teen likely will too.
Try to enlist friends and relatives to ride along with your teen.  The more perspectives he or she gets, the better.
If your teen does not seem to be ready for driving, postpone letting them get a license.  Not everyone is mentally or physically ready at 16. 

Click here for a copy of the TEEN DRIVING SAFETY CONTRACT

Driving Points
Good driving habits are formed early, and parents can help teens learn them by taking an active role in driver education.  Points to remember…
Help the new driver adjust the seat, mirrors etc. to suit his or hers size before you leave the driveway.
Start with the basic moves: gas, brake, turn signals reverse.
Think about all the things you take for granted: Blind spots, mirrors, lane changes, right of way, following distance and turning your head.
With each driving lesson have an idea of what you want to accomplish. Start in a empty parking lot for the basics, where the controls are and what they do.  When the student has a grasp of those, move to lightly traveled streets.  Industrial and rural areas on Sundays are a great place to practice. Save the highways and interstates for advanced training.
Use “commentary driving”. Ask your teen to comment on what they see- speed limits, road signs, and potential hazards- explain how they can avoid trouble. If they are hesitant, demonstrate it first: “That car on the right just turned its wheel, so he may be pulling out” and so on
Once you’re on the road, give instructions well in advance. Be specific: “Move to the left lane when you can and be ready to turn in the next block”, not “turn here!”
Include a variety of situations in your practice sessions.  Driving tests often don’t evaluate many skills drivers will need, such as driving in the snow or ice, merging onto freeways, or using anti-lock brakes.  Once the student is fairly comfortable in the car, be sure he or she gets driving time under those conditions.
Stay calm no matter what.  Yelling (or gasping) won’t help whatever the situation.  If discipline is called for, have the conversation at rest in a parking lot, not in the road.
And finally…. when your teen does something well, acknowledge it.

Help for student drivers with ADHD
Driving is especially challenging for teens with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).  In contrast to the their non ADHD peers, they crash nearly four times more often and rack up three times as many speeding tickets in their first few year behind the wheel. A few tips for parents from Marlene Snyder, author of AD/HD & Driving:
If the medicine helps your teen, require that is be taken as directed. A recent University of Virginia study finds that ADHD kids drive better when taking a controlled –release stimulant rather than extended-release amphetamine salts.
Let your teen practice driving with you as often as possible, even if he/she is enrolled in driver’s education class.
Allow a learner’s permit only when you’re satisfied that your teen can handle the responsibility.  If your state does not have graduated licensing, in which new drivers earn privileges in stages, then apply similar rules yourself.


Parents must take the direct road to

Teach teen drivers

Many parents remain shockingly clueless about the magnitude of the risk for teen drivers. They give in much too easily to pressure from teens to obtain a driver’s license on or near their 16th birthday. Likewise, many allow their kids to breeze through the perfunctory steps that pass for driving instruction in this country, then blithely hand over the keys to the family vehicle, or buy one for their young driver right away—often something flashy, top-heavy or too powerful. What is so puzzling is how strongly this situation counters typical parental behavior for the first 16 years of a child’s life. During that time parents eagerly spring for all kinds of instruction: piano lessons, dancing lessons, skating lessons and so forth. They cart the kids endlessly back and forth to such sessions, spending hundreds of hours and lots of money. No parent would pay for only six piano lessons and then expect a child to perform at a concert. And no parent would send a child to six swimming lessons then demand a championship athletic performance. So why is it, when it counts the most—when it becomes a matter of life and death—that so many parents shrink from their responsibility to instruct, supervise and protect their children? Why do they settle for only six hours of driver training behind the wheel? Most states have at least imposed graduated licensing programs, which strengthen some of the requirements for beginning drivers—and have resulted in decreased fatality rates—but those laws go only so far. Given the situation and the dangers, responsible parents have no choice. They must do for their beginning drivers what they have done during earlier phases of their children’s development. They must assume responsibility to supervise a safe and complete driving instruction program.
First, take Control

All states grant parents authority to decide whether their minor child should obtain a learner’s permit and a license. If a parent thinks a teen is not yet ready, then that parent need do nothing—granting a permit or a license is what requires action, in the form of a signature.  You know your teen better than anyone (At least you hope you do!), and it is up to you to decide when he or she is ready and how you are going to approach the process.

Take the time

Safety experts agree good basic driving skills require at least 100 hours of supervised instruction behind the wheel. That means gradually exposing kids to as many of the potential conditions they will face on the road as possible. For both of your sakes, begin in a place of safety, such as an empty parking lot, and move carefully from there into conditions of increasing complexity—but only after the teen has mastered each new skill and challenge.

Don’t hurry

There is no specific age at which he or she must begin driving. Forget about your own inconvenience and concentrate on teaching. If at any time you feel a sense of inattention, resistance or rebellion, become the parent again. Say something like: “I’m sorry, but you’re not taking this as seriously as I would have hoped, so we’re going to suspend the lessons until you start showing a better attitude.”  Likewise, don’t give up until you are comfortable being in the passenger seat all the time.
Even after your teen is licensed, instruction should continue. Lay down sensible limits, such as no passengers for the first three months,curfews, and absolutely no drinking or drugs. Make it a point, whenever you and your teen travel together, to require him or her to drive. It’s a good way to continue to sharpen skills and detect bad habits. And remember that until your child reaches age 18, you still have the authority to suspend or revoke driving privileges.
Last, enjoy this

This approach is not punitive—it’s loving and caring. It conveys how much you desire to see your child receive the best training possible-from you!  This is a right of passage and it can be exciting to be part of it.
In the past 5 years over 27,000 teen drivers have died in traffic accidents. We hope we can help reduce this tragic number with your help.