Teen Drivers – Parents Should Know Kids’ Risky Business Behind The Wheel

I think by now you’re probably tired of hearing/reading my tweets and facebook status updates about my teenager passing her behind-the-wheel test (with only two bad ticks, mind you) last week.

AP Photo Carrie Cochran

Yes, we are so proud of her for completing this grueling process, and yet our gut wrenches each time she asks for the car keys!

Before I go on, let me tell you that if you don’t want to read anymore about this topic, then you might want to click away and go read something completely unrelated — like my recent interview with Spartacus: Vengeance producer and head writer Steven DeKnight.

OK. If you’re still here, let’s continue.

The topic of Teenage Drivers for today’s parents is one of the scariest we’ve had to take on because times are drastically different than when we were learning to drive (probably at age 14) many years ago. There were no cell phones to distract us; we had fewer cup holders; seat belts were not required (did I just date myself?); CDs, DVD players, iPods, and all those wires and hook-up thingies were limited to a cigarette lighter (yeah, remember those?).


Anyway, back to today’s teen drivers. They have more disctractions to contend with than a one-man circus band which makes us parents more fearful of when they finally get over the permit-driving stage and get their provisional (semi-full) licence.

A recent study  by Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia and State Farm Insurance reveals that teenagers who were involved in serious car accidents were engaging in risky behavior– talking on the cell phone or texting —  just prior to the accident. This information is likely not that surprising to you, but this next bit of information should be: Teens driving with other teens in the car admitted they were distracted by the actions of their passengers when they got in an accident.

Responsible parents know that there’s added aggravation that comes with driving privileges for teenagers. One of those aggravations/responsabilites, and perhaps the most difficult to enforce, is to not allow underage passangers in the car with your freshly-licensed teenager until they’ve had their licence for a whole year!

If you live in California like we do, this is the law Changes to Provisional Driver License Restrictions reagarding teen drivers with passagers:

Effective January 1, 2006, persons under age 18 must be accompanied by a parent/guardian or other person specified by law when:

  • Transporting passengers under 20 years of age, at any time for the first twelve months.
  • Driving between the hours of 11:00 PM and 5:00 AM for the first twelve months

“Oh, mom. But everybody does it!” is what my defient teen tells me when I warn her about having ANYONE  under 20 in the car with her since she’s 16 years old and has had her provisional license all of one week.

Yeah. Yeah. Whatever, I think.


 So what kind of parent are you? Are you an enabler or are  you the so-strict-and-mean-and-you-don’t undertand type?

I will always try to be the latter.

NOTE: If you are interested in a FREE publication by the Sate Bar about Kids, Teens and the law, just leave me a comment with your e-mail so I can get in touch with you! It’s a very useful guide with all the pertinent laws about juvenile hall, Internet regulations and driving laws parents should be aware of.


  1. I agree, driving is more risky nowadays, not only for our kids but also just about for everybody else. It would be easier to just turn off a device (phone or tablet) at any point of driving, it would save us so many lives.

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