Researchers urge parents to make the most of driving time with teens

Posted August 28, 2014

— The state of North Carolina gives parents a year to supervise their teens before they get full licenses. A new study from The University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center shows parents could do more to make the most of that time.

Researcher Arthur Goodwin says parents need to make sure their teens are doing more than just driving to school and back.

“(Get) practice in rain, nighttime, interstate, rural roads – a wide variety of different settings,” he said.

Goodwin says many parents make simple commands to stop or slow down, but they don't teach good driving skills.

“Instead of just saying, ‘Slow down,’ when the teen isn't braking early enough, they need to take the next step to explain when they need to slow down,” he said.

Parent Beth Mueller says she's doing that with her daughter, Caroline. She recently took her daughter to the parking lot at the Friday Center in Chapel Hill to practice.

“At first, it's really scary (and) terrifying. As you get used to it, it's easier,” Caroline Mueller said.

“We're taking it slowly, because we have plenty of time,” her mother added. “As I was driving down the road and she's watching, I would constantly talk about what I was doing.”

The Highway Safety Research Center has developed an app called "Time to Drive" that makes it easy for parents to track the time they've spent driving with their teenager and the kinds of conditions they've experienced.


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  • 678devilish Aug 29, 2014

    And will never make them perfect. Don't allow cell phones on while driving, paying attention to what is around you; not blaring the music so loud that you cannot hear; obeying all the road signs, most of all driving responsibly. etc.

  • Hanging On Aug 29, 2014

    Need to read before I press "Add"...LOL...

    "or help their children prepare for school every day (ie. help with homework)..."

  • Hanging On Aug 29, 2014

    I agree 100% BUSYB97, however, there are some parents who barely supervise their children and teach them manners or respect for other people and other people's property, or their children prepare for school every day (ie. help with homework). Riding in the car with them while they are getting their permit is a chore and they are ready for it to end when their child gets a license. It is liberating to them, since they no longer have to cart their kids around. Add to that some of these parent drivers that are supposed to be teaching them proper driving are people that scare the poo out of you on your regular daily commute; these kids are doomed with poor examples. I applaud the parents that spend the necessary time helping teaching their kids; let's hope the others wake up and realize these learning opportunities before it's too late.

  • James Barefoot Aug 29, 2014
    user avatar

    Train them early, Mowing the lawn is a good start to driving, I let mine do all the driving when they got their permit, everywhere we went they drove. The only way to learn is to get into traffic.

  • MrX-- Aug 29, 2014

    Many years ago, when I was driving with a permit, my parents pretty much had me always drive everywhere we went together.

  • TimeWillTell Aug 29, 2014

    Here's a way to do far more, and it could save your teen's life. Two "Street Survival" car control schools for teens will be held October 18th and 19th at the Raleigh Police Driving Facility. Learn more at This is NOT a for-profit deal; all instructors volunteer their time. The new-driver daughter of a friend of ours gained a huge amount of skill and confidence after taking the one-day class last year.

  • busyb97 Aug 29, 2014

    Apparently my comment the first time wasn't good enough, WRAL?

    Parents don't have to let their teens get their license after driving for one year. there is nothing that says they HAVE to get a license at 16. They go for their license when it seems they are ready for it. I agree, make the most of it when you are training, but parents should have the final say when you are ready. Driving is a privilege...especially as a teenager. My son is almost 14....I'm already explaining things to him...specifically the "why" part of actions we take on the road. It will be a long process and when he is ready and mature enough for the responsibility, THEN and only then, will he go for his full license.

    I can handle chauffeuring my kids around a bit longer if it means keeping them safe and training them well.