Teen Driver Safety

Car crashes are the number one killer of all people ages 4 – 34, and teens are the most vulnerable.

Because of this terrifying statistic, DRIVE SMART COLORADO dedicates much of its time to the education of teens and their parents about how to prevent these tragedies from occurring.

More information at: www.coteendriver.com


Some of Life’s Most Important Lessons Begin Behind the Wheel 

School may be able to teach your teen calculus and physics, but parents are the primary educator when it comes to their teen’s safe driving habits. One of the biggest ways you, as a parent, can protect your inexperienced new driver is by helping them to understand the Graduated Drivers Licensing (GDL) laws and enforce them at home.

Why the Graduated Drivers Licensing laws were created: 

Crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in Colorado and across the United States. Teens face the greatest risk of crashing during their first year of driving. In fact, one out of every five licensed 16-year-olds will be in a vehicle crash. Since teen drivers face a lack of expertise, they need to exercise greater caution and limit distractions. States have adopted the GDL laws to try and keep kids safe by giving them driving experience without distractions and limiting dangerous driving situations. Helping your teen understand these laws could save not only their license but also their life.

From a parent’s perspective: 

“My son Ben is sixteen and will soon be driving. That makes me nervous. Not only do I worry about his driving skills, I’m concerned about who he’s riding with,” said Bruce Levy, who works at WAT Business Services, a non-profit company in Boulder. “I didn’t realize that Colorado’s teen driving laws limit the number of under-21-year-olds in a vehicle when Ben is driving. After visiting CDOT’s coteendriver Web site and learning more about the teen-driving restrictions, I’m better prepared as a parent to coach my son on what and what not to do.”

What the Graduated Drivers Licensing laws are:

Colorado’s GDL law has three stages: Instruction Permit, Restricted License, Full Privilege License.

Teens with Instruction Permits may only drive under the supervision of a parent or guardian. If they’re under 18, they may not drive with anyone except their driving instructor, parent or guardian. It is illegal for a teen with an instruction permit to use a cell phone while driving.

When teens receive their Restricted License—the only license they may receive until they turn 18—they are not allowed passengers younger than 21 for the first six months and then only one up to the first year. All passengers with drivers under 18 must wear seatbelts. This is a primary law, meaning your teen can be pulled over and ticketed for not wearing a seat belt. Only one passenger may ride in the front seat. No driving between midnight and 5 a.m. until a teen has had a driver’s license for at least one year, unless accompanied by an instructor, parent or legal guardian.

A Full Privilege License is when your teen turns 18 and there are no longer restrictions.Additional restrictions and consequences can be found on coteendriver.com.

Role as a parent: 

As a parent, you are the primary source of GDL information for your teen driver. You help not only educate your teen, but enforce the laws as well. As one of the primary enforcers of the GDL, you should emphasize to your teen that you’re supporting their freedom to drive. Bruce found it easier to enforce safe-driving habits after reading Colorado’s GDL law. “It’s a little more comforting to know there’s a law behind what I’m telling Ben. That way, I don’t come across as an overly strict father. Instead, it shows I’m informed enough to help him get the driving experience that will keep him and others safe.” Tips for enforcing:

Verbally remind your teen of Colorado’s restrictions before he or she drives or leaves with friends.

Inquire about the where, when and who of the driving situation before your teen leaves the house.

Create a contract with your teen about driving rules, then set consequences for breaking them.

To find out more information on GDL laws, risks for teen drivers, tips for enforcement and a copy of a “Parent/Teen Driving Agreement,” visit www.coteendriver.com.