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Young Drivers, Cautious Parents

Will your teenager soon be behind the wheel of your car? Until then and even once your child begins driving, your role is essential. You have many things to explain, rules to set, and solutions to offer.

What Is the Graduated Licensing System?

If you hold a driver’s licence, you are probably already familiar with some aspects of the graduated licensing system.

More commonly known as “driving lessons,” the “learning” component is the first part of the graduated licensing system. By following the Road Safety Education Program – Driving a Passenger Vehicle (PDF, 732.4 ko), your teenager will acquire the knowledge and skills needed to become a safe driver.

Moreover, the rules below apply in order to let young learners gain driving experience while protecting them from risky situations:

  • accompanied driving
  • limits or prohibitions regarding passengers
  • curfew from midnight to 5 a.m.
  • zero alcohol

All learner drivers, even those who best follow the rules, are exposed to certain risks when they start learning to drive. Many studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of graduated licensing rules in reducing serious or fatal accidents among young drivers.

Remember that you are the person best positioned to ensure that your teenager is aware of the rules and, above all, follows them!

Learn more about the rules and restrictions that apply to different types of licences.

Set Your Own Rules

As a parent, you know your teen’s temperament and maturity level best. If you deem it necessary, you can set your own rules.

For example:

  • Extend the learner driver period beyond the mandatory 12-month period if you consider that your teen needs to gain more experience through supervised driving.
  • Impose conditions that are stricter than those required by the graduated licensing system.

Studies show that when parents impose stricter limits regarding the number of passengers and night driving, there is a decrease in the number of accidents and statements of offence.

Practice: A Key Element for Learning to Drive

Inexperience is often a factor in accidents involving young people. This is why it is essential for new drivers to practise as often as possible.

To drive with a learner’s licence, your teen must be accompanied by a person who has held a driver’s licence for at least 2 years. Take advantage of this period to have your teen practice regularly with you, and try to experience various driving situations and contexts

  • driving during the daytime, in the evening, on a wet or snowy roadway, in heavy traffic, etc.
  • taking various routes and driving on a variety of roads

Your Influence as a Parent

Accompanying your child during this period will give you an opportunity to share and discuss your driving experience. Some parents have reported that this has helped them become more aware of their own behaviours and improve them!

Using a cell phone, expressing aggressiveness, speeding… there are many behaviours that you do not want your teen to have at the wheel. Remember that your teen is watching you and that you are his or her first role model with regards to road safety. Behave today the same way you want your child to behave later on.

Talk to Your Teen

“Mom, Dad, can I borrow the car?”

If you accept, rather that discussing only the destination and curfew time, remind your child of certain important concepts that may be appropriate to the outing’s context. For example:

  • Is it raining or snowing? Remind your child to adapt his or her speed. Speeding even a little bit can have serious consequences.
  • Is it the end of the school term? Pay attention to signs of fatigue. Teenagers and young adults need more sleep than adults (at least 9 to 9.5 hours of sleep per night);
  • A party? Zero tolerance applies to alcohol and drugs for drivers aged 21 or younger.

Remind your child not to get into a vehicle with a driver who is impaired and go over the available alternatives if he or she uses alcohol or drugs (e.g. call you for a ride home, sleep over, call a taxi or a drive-home service, designate a driver who will not use alcohol or drugs before the party starts).

Did you know that cannabis is the drug most frequently detected in the blood of young people killed in a traffic accident?

Statistics show that accident rates are very high during the first year of driving and remain high until drivers reach age 24. Traffic accidents are still one of the main causes of death among young people between the ages of 16 and 24 in Québec. They occur more frequently in the evening, at night and on weekends, and the higher the number of passengers, the greater the risk of accident.

Once your teen has a probationary licence, he or she can drive alone… however, your involvement should not end here! Continue guiding your child beyond the probationary period, even once he or she holds a regular licence.

Last update: December 13, 2022