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Safe Driving Tips for Young Drivers

July 16, 2021
4 mins
Happy african-american father and teen sitting in car, dad pleased with sons drive

Getting a driver’s licence is a big deal to many people, whether they are a teen driver or someone older.

The dream of having freedom to come and go without having to rely on someone else to give them a ride or public transportation appeals to many people. However, there are still a lot of responsibilities for each driver, regardless of age. The process of getting a driver’s licence begins before getting a G1 permit. Now that driving test centres in Ontario are opening again, countless teenagers will be eager to take that first or next step.

Although many people feel it’s their “right” to get their driver’s licence, it’s not. It’s a privilege. Part of making the decision about getting licensed is being mentally ready for it. As a teenager, that’s a big responsibility to take on, and as their parent, you too must be ready for it. Can you afford the cost of car insurance? Will there be a vehicle for them to drive regularly to gain experience? Will you sign them up for a driver’s training course? There are a lot of decisions to make before that first step, but once the decision has been made, it can be rather exciting.

Hire a professional to teach your teen how to drive

Despite how many years you have been driving, teaching someone else the rules of the road may not be the wisest thing to do. As a licensed driver, you may not realize what you don’t know or that what you’re doing is not technically sound or legal.

Enrolling your teen in a professional driver training program is the best decision you can make. Ensuring it’s a reputable driving school with curriculum that is approved by Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation is the first step. Your goal here is to find a program that teaches not just the rules of the road, but also teaches the new driver how to make proactive decisions to avoid conflicts on the road. More advanced driver training programs may cost more, but it is worth the extra cost.

Support the new driver with their newfound knowledge. Help them practice what they have been taught. Ensure they can be a safe driver who follows the rules of the road. That may mean you too have to clean up some of your bad habits. You new driver may not know about your bad habits right away, but coming from a different pair of eyes, you’ll know soon enough.

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Let’s say your teen is now licensed. They’re going to need insurance. And while car insurance can be expensive for new drivers, there are ways to find an affordable policy, including:

  • Ask about discounts. Most insurance companies offer a discount for new drivers who have completed, and passed, an approved driver training program.
  • Leverage your associations. Some insurers offer a group discount if you belong to one they recognize. An eligible group may include members of a union, school alumni, employees of a specific occupation, or certain non-profit associations. Check with your provider if they offer a discount to groups.
  • Bundle your policies. Purchasing both home and car insurance with the same provider typically includes a discount. Multiple vehicle discounts are also common.
  • Good student discount. Some insurers offer discounts for students who maintain good grades or if they live away from home for during the school year.
  • Start out as an occasional driver. Premiums for younger drivers who drive occasionally are much lower than premiums for younger principal drivers, especially those who own a vehicle. Gaining driving experience as an occasional driver under the insurance policy of a parent or guardian can save a fair bit of money.

Stay focused, safe, and don’t take chances behind the wheel

One of the best ways to save on car insurance is to have a clean driving record. That takes discipline and focus. Although there may be temptations from time to time, staying focused on driving is a vital habit to build.

It also means refraining from fiddling with a mobile device while behind the wheel. Practice what you preach to your novice driver:

  • Mute and leave all phones out of reach is a simple way to reduce the temptation and possibly ending up with a distracted driving charge.
  • Remember that we must share the road and that by showing respect to others can help avoid getting into a collision or being charged with traffic infractions.

With that said, no one plans to be in a collision, but they do happen. It’s important for drivers of any age and experience to know an at-fault collision will stay on a person’s driving record for six years, and it will have a significant impact on the cost of insurance.

Learning to drive is about more than being able to have greater mobility and freedom to come and go as you please. It involves paying for vehicle maintenance, fuel, and car insurance. Are you, and your novice driver, ready for it?

Scott Marshall

Scott Marshall has spent over 30 years promoting road safety across Canada. He has seen many things from inside the vehicle while training new drivers, retraining licensed drivers, and training new driving instructors. Scott began writing road safety articles in 2005 for a community newspaper and has moved on to more publications from there.

In 2005, Scott was an on-air judge on the Discovery Network's Canada's Worst Driver program for its first three seasons. That gave Scott insight with regards to what makes bad drivers so bad. He was also the host of The National Driving Test internet webisodes.

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