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Tips for parents of new teen drivers

If you're the parent of a teen who is beginning the process of getting their driver's license, you're likely experiencing a range of emotions -- and so is your child. It's a time of excitement, but also some trepidation.

Parents should spend plenty of time in the car with their teen behind the wheel once they get their permit. This is in addition to their official behind-the-wheel training. You can also model good behavior for your teen while you're behind the wheel -- e.g., not talking on the phone or eating, wearing your seatbelt and obeying all traffic signs.

Oklahoma has a Graduated Driver License (GDL) program that gives teens increasing freedom based on their time behind the wheel and their age. Teens must have a licensed driver who's at least 21 with them when they're driving on a learner's permit or intermediate license. Even then, teens with a learner's permit can't drive between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.

Once they get an intermediate license, they can drive during the overnight hours if they're accompanied by a licensed adult or they're involved in a school, work or church activity. When they drive without a licensed adult, they can only have one other passenger in the car (excluding those who live in their home).

Parents may choose to place additional restrictions on their teen drivers. Contrary to popular belief, most crashes involving teens aren't caused by alcohol or drugs. They're caused by distracted driving, recklessness and speeding.

You know your teen and you've witnessed them behind the wheel. You may want to add further restrictions, such as:

  • Not allowing them to drive with any other teens in the car
  • Not driving in inclement weather until they've had more practice with you
  • Not driving more than a specific distance on their own
  • Not using the hands-free phone or other features that can take their mind and eyes off the road

Fortunately, there's a lot of technology out there, including a variety of apps, to help parents monitor their kids' driving behavior. There are also parent-teen driving contracts that can help you set clear rules for your child.

If your teen is a safe driver, they lessen the chances of being involved in a crash caused by someone who isn't. However, if they are, get the compensation you need and deserve to deal with medical bills, repair costs and other expenses and damages

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