Getting behind the wheel is an exciting time for many teenagers as they gain their first taste of independence and a sense of growing freedoms. But, with those freedoms, come responsibilities. To keep your teen and others around them safe, make sure they check out and follow these safety tips for new drivers.
What tips should teens know before getting behind the wheel?
Teens need to understand that defensive driving is the smartest and safest choice. If they show respect and courtesy to other drivers and follow these tips, they can become excellent drivers.
- Give other drivers enough space: Tailgating or brake checking another driver is never a safe idea. Teens should make sure they maintain a four-second following distance and remember that the following time may increase depending on weather or road conditions.
- Follow the rules of the road: Following the rules of the road is not just a matter of staying safe; it is the law. If teens break the rules of the road, they may face arrest or the suspension of their driving privileges.
- Watch their speed: As stated above, driving gives teens the freedom they crave and that freedom may cause teens to make bad decisions such as speeding. Speeding can make it impossible to stop for hazards and can lead to fatal accidents.
- Pay attention to traffic signals: Those signals are not there as a suggestion; all drivers must pay attention to and obey all traffic signals. Attempting to speed through a yellow light or not stopping for a stop sign can be extremely dangerous.
- Demonstrate good judgment: Teens sometimes make bad decisions, but a bad decision behind the wheel can be deadly. Teens (and all other drivers) should never get behind the wheel if they are overtired or have been drinking.
- Never use a phone while driving: According to an AT&T survey on texting and driving, 43 percent of teens text and drive; however, just because so many teens do it does not mean it is okay. Let your teen know it is never safe to text, talk on the phone, or check social media while driving. It can wait.
- Give driving their full attention: When teens have friends in their car or are listening to music, it is much harder for them to give driving their full attention. Limit passengers and make sure your teen knows to wait to change the radio until it is safe.
Teens must also understand that they are not invincible and that they should not engage with aggressive or reckless drivers.
Teens should also take responsibility for the care of their vehicle and make sure they always have enough fuel, get regular oil changes, and learn how to check their tire pressure.
When can teens start driving in Washington State?
A teen must be at least 15 and signed up for a driver's training course to obtain an "Instruction Permit."
A teen is eligible to obtain an Intermediate License once she has:
- Held her permit for at least 6 months
- Passed her approved driver's training course and the driving test
- Completed 50 hours of supervised driving with a licensed driver (10 hours must be at night)
However, if a court convicts the teen of any traffic violations in the six months prior to her application or if a court has ever convicted her of any alcohol or drug offense, she will not obtain be able to her license.
Remember that even if your teen has a license, you do not need to let her drive if you believe that she is not driving safely.
What are the restrictions for a teen with an Intermediate License?
Teens under 18 with an Intermediate License are subject to the following rules and regulations:
- Teens may not have passengers under 20 in the car for the first six months (immediate family members do not apply); after six months passes, teens may have up to three passengers under 20.
- Teens may not drive between one and five a.m. unless they are with a licensed driver over 25.
- Teens may never use a phone while driving, unless they must report an emergency.