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Cambridge-Greenwich Police Department

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3 Minutes Read

Raising Responsible Teen Drivers

Keeping Our Teens Safe Behind the Wheel

For parents in our Cambridge-Greenwich community, teaching our teens to drive is an exciting rite of passage. But it also comes with very real risks, as motor vehicle crashes remain a leading cause of death for American teenagers.

As a police department, we want to ensure our newest drivers have the skills and judgment to stay safe on local roads. That’s why we partner with families, schools, and policymakers to promote best practices for novice teen drivers. Here are some key steps parents can take to keep teen driving as safe as possible.

Start Early and Set Clear Rules 

Don’t wait until your teen turns 16 to discuss driving privileges and responsibilities. As early as 13 or 14, involve them in conversations about your family’s driving rules. Explain the reasons behind restrictions on passengers, night driving, cell phone use, and more. Outline consequences for breaking rules, but also incentives for demonstrating maturity.

Starting early shows driving is a privilege to be earned, not an automatic right.

Ease Into Full Driving Independence 

When your teen does get a license, resist the urge to turn over the keys and treat them like an experienced driver overnight. Take advantage of graduated driver's licensing (GDL), which increases privileges in stages as skills develop. During learner’s permit periods, log extensive supervised practice in various conditions. When they move to an intermediate license, keep restrictions like no late-night driving and one teen passenger at a time. Only grant full privileges after demonstrating consistently responsible driving over time.

Lead By Example 

Teen driving behavior mirrors what they see from parents and older siblings. That’s why aggressive, distracted, or intoxicated driving by family members gives exactly the wrong impression. Model safe habits like buckling up, obeying speed limits, and putting phones away while driving. Show patience and courtesy to other motorists.

And have frank talks about how choices behind the wheel have lifelong consequences.

Require Driver Education 

In many states, formal driver's ed is mandated. In New York, drivers must complete a 5-hour pre-licensing course before you can schedule a road test. Look for courses with a strong safety focus covering hazard perception, attention maintenance, conflict avoidance, and emergency maneuvers. Many insurers provide discounts for completion, so driver’s ed is worth the investment.

Use Technology Wisely 

When used properly, apps and devices can bolster teen driving safety. In-vehicle features like backup cameras, blind spot warnings, and lane keeping assistance help compensate for inexperience. Apps can block phone use or texting while driving. Telematics devices track location, speeding, and sudden braking. While technology can greatly assist new drivers, it is important to research and understand the functionality and limitations of these devices before relying on them.

Enforce GDL Laws 

As police officers tasked with keeping roads safe, we strongly enforce all provisions of the graduated licensing system.

That includes cracking down on violations like driving with too many passengers, joyriding before curfew, or using any electronic devices. We take this responsibility seriously, because research shows strict GDL enforcement significantly reduces teen crashes and fatalities. Officers also regularly speak to student drivers on the importance of complying with their provisional licenses.

Connect Teens to Resources 

Beyond parents and law enforcement, many other groups assist with teen driver education. Our local high schools, driver training programs, health providers, and youth groups help instill safe habits. We also direct teens and parents to NHTSA’s excellent resources at www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/teen-driving. Take advantage of these knowledgeable sources for guidance as a new driver navigates each licensing stage.

With preparation, care, and attention from our entire community, we can ensure Cambridge-Greenwich teens enjoy the exciting step of driving while minimizing associated risks. By partnering with families, we aim to guide each new driver through this journey as safely as possible.

Have more questions? Reach out to our department for any help needed along the way.


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Disclaimer: The content published on this blog is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be legal advice or an endorsement of any particular course of action. The information provided is based on general principles and may not be applicable to individual circumstances. For personalized legal advice or assistance, please consult with a qualified attorney. The views expressed in guest posts are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Village of Cambridge Police Department.
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