Every parent remembers what it was like to obtain their driver’s license. They enjoyed more freedom and independence than ever.
However, when parents have a teenager of their own who is starting to drive, it is natural to feel nervous and stressed. Parents want to protect their children, and teens face considerable risk when they get behind the wheel.
Thankfully, there are steps that Kentucky families can take to improve their teen’s driving skills – and their safety on the road.
What is the Graduated Driver Licensing program?
Many states – including Kentucky – actually have a program designed to help teen drivers better develop their driving skills and drive safer. The Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program is required for some teen drivers, but parents should consider having their child participate in this program regardless.
The program has teens follow three steps to get their driver’s license:
- Permit: After teens take the driver education course and pass their permit test, they obtain a learner’s permit. With a permit, they cannot drive between midnight and 6 a.m., and they can only drive when accompanied by a licensed driver that is at least 21 and related to them.
- Intermediate License: After 180 days with the permit, parents must verify that the teen practiced driving for 60 hours, with 10 hours being at night before they can take their driving test. Even if teens pass their driving test, they must still follow specific rules. For example, they still cannot drive after midnight, and they cannot have more than one passenger who is under 20 and not related to them.
- Full Unrestricted License: After another 180 days with an intermediate license, then teens can apply for a regular, unrestricted driver’s license.
When teens use this process, it ensures that they practice. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), research indicates that GDL programs reduce crashes by roughly 16% to 22%, and fatal crashes by 26% to 41%.
What else can parents do to help teen drivers stay safe?
There are additional efforts that parents can take at home to help their teen drivers as well. For example, it can help if parents:
- Set a good example for their teen to learn from by avoiding distractions and following all traffic laws
- Still enforce rules for their teen driver, even when they obtain an unrestricted driver’s license
- Discuss the specific consequences of driving distracted or under the influence
Parents are still responsible for their child’s safety and taking proactive action can help prepare them to handle the risks of the road.