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Drive it Home - Helping you Keep your Teen Driver Safe

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The Parent's Supervised Driving Guide

The Parent's Supervised Driving Guide is designed to improve teen driver safety by providing parents and guardians with a methodical approach to help their teens learn requisite driving skills during the 50 hours of supervised driving time required for all Colorado teens with a Learner's Permit. The guide, which includes lessons concentrating on particular sequential skills, was developed by Safe Roads Alliance, a non-profit dedicated to promoting safer driving through education for drivers of all ages. This guide is not meant as a substitute for formal behind-the-wheel training, but is meant to empower parents who are in the best position to help their teens to become safe, smart and skilled drivers.

You Need to Know... 

...that traffic crashes are the leading cause of teen fatalities, accounting for 44% of teen deaths in the U.S. The National Safety Council has segmented this problem into three distinct areas, and have adopted strategies to address each of them:

  • Reduce teen drivers' exposure to risk
  • Modify risky driving behavior
  • Develop driver skills and experience

Reducing risk

In November 2002, papers prepared by acknowledged experts were presented at the "Symposium on Graduated Driver Licensing: Documenting the Science of GDL." The proceedings provide a comprehensive review of the research that has been done on teenage driver safety issues. Download the papers as PDF documents from the National Safety Council web site.

Since the symposium was held, the National Safety Council and its partners in teen driving safety have been distilling the scientific research to present the facts to driver safety professionals and to families, using a variety of methods,

  • The new Family Guide to Teen Driver Safety is one way to help families understand the truth about risks, and the practical wisdom of graduated privileges.
  • NSC and its local chapters will be holding parent workshops to introduce the Family Guide to parents. If you are interested in attending a workshop in your area, please send us an e-mail at This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it with your name, address and phone number. A representative from the NSC chapter in your area will contact you.
  • Each year, the Journal of Safety Research® publishes articles summarizing recent graduated driver licensing and teen driver research. Download the articles.

Modifying risky behavior

Traffic safety programs for teens are often designed to help teens modify their own driving behavior to reduce risk of crashes. But we know that many teens have difficulty regulating their risk-taking behavior, and recent research is beginning to give us insight into why. Researchers are finding that the area of the brain that governs weighing consequences of one’s actions, suppressing impulses and organizing thoughts does not fully mature until about age 25. In addition, hormones are active and influencing the brain’s neurochemicals that regulate excitability and mood. This can result in thrill-seeking behavior and other experiences that create intense feelings, during years when the brain’s ability to make people more responsible is not yet fully mature. It’s also during these years that teenagers typically learn to drive.

A balanced approach to traffic safety for young drivers should not depend entirely on teens regulating their own driving behavior. Many factors influence teen driving, including friends and peer pressure, a belief in invincibility, and physiological changes. Alive at 25 can help teens deal with these issues that can influence their driving behavior. Find an Alive at 25 course in your area.

Developing skills

Driver education programs can prepare young people to drive and can play a role in helping teens to begin developing driving skills. However, completion of driver education does not mean that teens are then ready to manage a full range of driving challenges.  What research shows is more important to safe driving is the opportunity to improve driving skills through gradual exposure to increasingly-challenging driving tasks. Teens become safer drivers as they build driving experience and develop safe driving habits and behaviors.

Driver education can help provide the foundation for safe behaviors through knowledge and practicing beginning skills. Driver education should be viewed as the beginning of a process through which teens learn valuable driving skills and the experience necessary to make them safe drivers. Parents should not rely solely on driver education to provide teens the significant knowledge and experience that they need to become safe drivers. Too often, completing driver education is viewed as the end of the learning process, rather than the beginning. In some states, the completion of driver education qualifies a teen for full driving privileges. The National Safety Council believes this is not a wise approach. Research has shown that significant hours of behind-the-wheel experience are necessary to reduce crash involvement risk. In the process of obtaining that experience through the first two years of driving, the risk of crash involvement can be reduced through state-imposed graduated licensing and parental restrictions.

View information on Driver Education Courses available in your area.