Things Have Changed Since You Learned to Drive

Things Have Changed Since You Learned to Drive

Parental hand dropping car keys into teen driver's hand

If you've been driving for 20 or more years, you know how to teach your teenager how to drive, right?

Maybe. Things have changed a bit since you took driver's education and if you have a new teen driver in your house, here's a quick look at new developments to keep in mind:
  • Lower your hands. You probably learned to keep your hands at the '10 and 2 o'clock' positions on the steering wheel. Today, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends drivers put their hands at the 9 and 3 o'clock positions. One reason for the change is to potentially keep hands out of the way if the airbag deploys.
  • Turn everything off. It's likely your teen will have a cell phone when he or she drives. Remind your teen to never text while driving, and encourage him or her to pull over before making a call. Even with hands-free devices, taking or making phone calls, searching for tunes on a media player, or playing the radio too loudly all contribute to heightened risks for teen drivers.
  • Gradually learn to drive. Familiarize yourself with the graduated drivers licensing (GDL) rules in your state. Today's learning drivers have new limits for such things as the age at which they can get their learner—permit or license, the hours they can drive, and the number of passengers they can carry. These laws limit the exposure of teen drivers from the most dangerous situations before being given an unrestricted license—and according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, have reduced teen crashes from 10-30%.
  • Keep your distance. You may have been taught to keep one car length per every 10 MPH between your vehicle and the one ahead of you. Today, instructors recommend a simpler three-second rule: Keeping an eye on the car in front of you, spot a fixed object that's even with that car. Then count how long it takes for your vehicle to reach the same object. If it's less than three seconds, allow more following distance behind the vehicle ahead.
  • Don't cross over. Drivers used to learn a hand-over-hand crossover method for turning the steering wheel. Now to execute a turn, your teen will be advised to 'push up' on one side of the wheel while 'pulling down' on the other.
  • Remember the basics. Today's vehicles are far more 'intelligent' than the cars you grew up driving. And while many of the features are designed to keep drivers safer—anti-skid controls, automated parallel parking, and sensors that stop a car before collision—it's always a good idea for teen drivers to learn to make their own decisions and react to different driving situations.

If you're teaching a teen to drive review these resources from State Farm®.


The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with State Farm®. While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. The information is not intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. Nor is it intended to effect coverage under our policy. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.