The Most Important Part Of Teaching Teens To Drive

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When I started to think about teaching our teen to drive, I was very focused on teaching her the laws and rules for driving on the road. So much so that I nearly missed the most important part of driving – keeping the driver, passenger and other drivers on the road safe. Looking back, that’s where it should all start before anything else is said. We are partnering with Mercury Insurance to share how we’re teaching Maddie to drive with the help of their teen driver tools.


Ten years ago, I remember driving in the car with Maddie and Ashley. Maddie was telling me from the back seat that she couldn’t wait to drive. I remember laughing, thinking that it was years and years away from happening. I’m here to say that those ten years flew by. Like “close your eyes and blink,” and they were gone. That fast.


Fast forward and she is now 14, and I decided that I should be starting to teach her to drive. She wasn’t old enough to get behind the wheel, but I knew there were other ways to start our lessons. I started explaining everything I was doing…

“I’m looking in my right mirror as I slow down with my turn signal on.”.

“Now I am slowly turning the corner.”

“See how I am never taking my eyes off the road?”

But the one thing I really missed with all of my training was that I should have started the conversation with a reminder that the most important aspect of driving is to keep you and everyone else safe. Once you focus on that, everything else falls into place.

Thankfully I remembered that pretty quickly, and we had a long talk about it. She is such a responsible kid that she was already in that state of mind, and she is just about to take the driver’s test.


We still talk about it all the time though because driving safely and poor decision-making are the biggest dangers for teen drivers. Since more and more teen drivers are on the road, it’s imperative for us parents to educate our teens on driver safety, even more than in years past.

An eye-opening statistic that I’ve shared with Maddie is that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 2,524 teen drivers and passengers were killed and 177,000 were injured in 2013. With mobile technology and the use of mobile apps steadily increasing, distracted driving accidents are on the rise. I think these numbers are shocking, and they really caught Maddie off guard too.

Thankfully there are tools out there to help both parents and teens. We have been utilizing the Mercury Insurance Drive Safe Challenge, an interactive website that provides teens with detailed safety instruction as well as gives parents tools to shape responsible driving behavior. The site features:

  • Teen driving statistics
  • Car-buying and insurance tips
  • Videos
  • Informative road sign quizzes
  • A driving contract that parents and teens can sign to set the rules of the road and outline the circumstances under which driving privileges would be lost.
  • A comprehensive breakdown of Graduated Driver’s License Laws by State
  • The most affordable and safest vehicles for teens to insure and additional resources

The most important thing we’ve learned along this journey is that this isn’t a one and done kind of lesson. This is something we have to talk about all the time. Something that both she and I need to think about often to make sure we’re both doing all that we can to keep everyone safe. I plan on going back to the Mercury Insurance Drive Safe Challenge many times with her to make sure that we’re doing our best to ensure that she has a positive and safe driving experience.

Do you have a teen learning to drive?

Heather Reese
the authorHeather Reese
Heather Delaney Reese is the storyteller and photographer behind the lifestyle and family travel blog, It's a Lovely Life®! For the past decade, she has vacationed over 150 days a year with her family. She is a vegan, and loves being by the water, spending time with her children, husband, 2 Shih Tzus and Cat.


  • Great advice. When I’ve got teenagers I intend to make sure they learn to drive safely as well enjoy the experience. Safety first ????
    Katja xxx

  • i don’t think i can teach my kids to drive when they get older! i’ll rather enroll them to driving school! im a bad driver. lol

  • Drinking and driving is deadly, still one of the worst reason of a car accident. If Maddie was a responsible kid, you don’t have to worry, just tell her that you trust her and everything will be okay.

  • I agree that driving safely is very important, It’s great that you spend some time to teach her everything properly- I’m sure she’ll be a great driver:)

  • I have two teenagers driving. While I will never stop worrying about them, I do believe they have the knowledge they need to drive safely.

  • You have much more patience than me! (Or my dad and mom who taught me to drive!) I’d rather send my teens to driving school, just so they don’t have to put up with my screaming:) I do like the parent/teen contract Mercury offers!

  • I’m a little nervous that I have to teach my son to drive this year. I live in a rural area and the roads are dangerous. I am going to allow him to get his permit and won’t let him take his driver’s licence test until 17-18 LOL.

  • I will have to keep this in mind when I have children. I remember my parents teaching me how to drive, but thank god for driving classes.

  • You are such a wonderful mother! Driving safety is so imperative. Thanks to you, your daughter is going to be a great driver!

  • Ahh I remembered the days when I learned how to drive. It was scary but exhilarating at the same time. It’s good to have such a thought out plan before going ahead — I was just kind of thrown into the car and told to go! Your method is by far more helpful.

  • Great post, your daughter looks just like you! you guys are twins , so cute. Keep on teachig her to respect the passangers safe!

  • teens should learn how to drive PROPERLY. i can see lots of arrogant driver in every corner of the street!

  • the Mercury Insurance Drive Safe Challenge looks like a very interesting one! gonna check it out!

  • What a pleasant and surprising article to read. My oldest is 10, but I feel like his growing super fast. Such a great idea to just start talking about how to drive. We are also model NO cell phones while driving. Because I too and shocked by the statistics you shared!

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