Thursday, June 25, 2009

Supervised Driving Hours

Some states require a certain amount of supervised driving hours for new drivers. Here is an article from AAA about the Texas law. If you live in a different state, go to the AAA home page and enter your zip. My search was for "texas law regarding supervised driving time." (I'm not that good at searches; there may be a better way).

They have tips and a log here.

Years ago, I read on a local homeschooling yahoo group about one mom's experience with this in Europe. She said that in some European countries, teens can get their learner's permit at 16, but they cannot get their driver's license until they turn 18 and have 150 documented hours of supervised driving time. They adapted this when they returned to the states and only required 100 hours. They kept a small notebook in the car and logged all driving time, including the types of roads (highway, suburban, city, rural), day or night and weather conditions. I decided that we would do this, too.

Then my sister-in-law sent me a copy of this press release:

News Alert

May 12, 2009

Parents can help keep teens safe with training tool for young drivers

"Novice Driver's Road Map: A Guide for Parents" offered by the non-profit Network of Employers for Traffic Safety

McLean, Va -- The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety last week issued results of a study that confirmed the value of graduated drivers' licensing laws (GDL) in improving young driver safety. Although each state establishes their own criteria, an important component to GDL laws is documented driving practice. To help parents cope with their newly emphasized role as teen driving coach during the extended licensing period, the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS) offers the "Novice Driver’s Road Map: A Guide for Parents."

The Road Map is designed to provide the missing link in a teen driver's education—practice. "The biggest risk to the health of teens is the possibility that they will be in a motor vehicle crash," said Jack Hanley, Executive Director of NETS. "Fortunately, there are steps that parents can take to teach their kids good habits that can lead to a lifetime of safer driving."

Built around a series of eight practice drives, the Novice Driver's Road Map provides a list of skills for each drive and instructions on how to perform those skills. Each drive exposes the teen to progressively more difficult driving conditions and environments. The guided practice drives provide parents with an organized practical approach to coaching their teen’s drive time.

A "Coach's Game Book" is included that is packed full of tips to help the parent or other trusted adult be a successful driving coach. Designed to fit right in the glove box, The Novice Driver’s Road Map can easily accompany parents and teens on every trip.

The Novice Driver's Road Map was created with support from the UPS Foundation. It is available at

Founded in 1989, the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS) is an employer-led public-private partnership dedicated to improving the safety and health of employees, their families, and members of the communities in which they live and work, by preventing traffic crashes that occur both on and off the job. NETS, the only nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to traffic safety in the workplace, provides organizations of all sizes and industry-types with guidance in developing or improving their driver safety programs. NETS also promotes education and outreach programs for employees and their families to support and encourage safe driving practices. Learn more about NETS from the organization’s web site at Information on teen driving laws by state is posted at

I ordered The Novice Driver's Road Map from this page. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and you'll see it in the center. It is a bit expensive, but since I have a current driver and two coming up, I thought it would be worth it. I did get some sort of discount (without asking for it), but I don't remember exactly what I paid. It comes with The Coach's Game Book.

The Novice Driver's Road Map is great because it gives you a graduated series of drives to do with your novice driver and even points out the typical mistakes that novice drivers make.

Two facts that stood out to me from The Coach's Game Book: A Guide for Parents:

  1. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for 15 to 20 year olds.
  2. The risk of being involved in a traffic crash is highest at age 16. The crash rate per mile driven is almost three times as high among 16 year olds as among 18 to 19 year olds.
And something else from The Coach's Game Book:

Many teen drivers receive formal driver education and training through a high school driver education program or through a private driving school. But all the textbooks and classroom time in the world do not replace actual time on the road. Unfortunately, the average road time in public and private driver education is about six hours and seldom includes nighttime driving, or driving in bad weather, work zones or in heavy traffic. ... Novice drivers need at least 150 to 200 hours of supervised practice time before driving solo. They also need monitoring after they begin driving unsupervised.

I remember reading somewhere of one family that offered their kids some large sum of money (I think it was $1,000) if they wouldn't drive until they reached a certain age (I think it was 18). This makes a lot of sense to me.

We're keeping a log of my son's driving time. I think parents may overestimate how much supervised driving time their kids are getting. I added up the time after a couple of weeks when we first began and was surprised that it was only four hours! Of course, that was the very beginning and the drives were short, but I would have overestimated the time had we not written it down.

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