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Teen Drivers

Teen driver safety: Tips for parents

​​According to Parachute Canada (a leading safety organization), road crashes are the second-leading cause of death among young people in Canada. In Alberta, motor vehicle incidents are one of the leading causes of unintentional injuries in teens.

Teen drivers often think they’re better drivers than they actually are. They also may not understand all of the risks of driving. The chance of getting into a crash is high during a teen’s first year of driving, when they’re not with a parent or other adult.

When your teen starts to drive, there are many things you can do to help them learn to be a safe driver.

Have your teen take driver training

Make sure your teen:

  • Takes driving lessons from a qualified driving instructor.
  • Enrolls in Alberta’s Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program.
  • Practices driving with an adult. Help them practice driving in the rain, snow, and ice so they know what to expect in these conditions.

Teach your teen to follow the rules

Make sure your teen:

  • Uses a seatbelt every time. It’s the law. Always make sure the vehicle has enough seatbelts for everyone.
  • Has a route plan for their destination.
  • Follows the speed limit and does not speed.
  • Drives a safe car and knows how to adjust windows and mirrors. They also need to put their seat in the right position so they can reach the pedals and see the road clearly.
  • Crosses railway tracks at designated crossings, and does not try to drive through or walk around or behind lowered or closing gates.

Remind your teen to pay attention while driving

Make sure your teen:

  • Drives with full control over their mind and body. This means your teen should not drive with alcohol or drugs in their body before or while driving a vehicle including car or truck, all-terrain vehicle (ATV), boat, or snowmobile.
  • Does not drive tired.
  • Does not drive distracted. Remind your teen to not text while driving, keep music volume low, limit the number of passengers in the car.
    • Alberta’s distracted driving law restricts drivers from texting, reading, using hand-held cell phones, and doing other distracting activities while driving. The fine for this offence is $300 and 3 demerit points.

Make a plan with your teen

Research shows that teen drivers have fewer crashes when parents put limits on driving. As your teen gains more driving experience, you can slowly relax these limits.

You may find it helps to have a plan with your teen that outlines driving rules, like the Checkpoints Parent-Teen Driving Agreement. This plan also outlines the major risks for teen drivers and what parents can do to lower these risks.

Having a plan and agreement helps you set expectations for driving and relax limits as your teen gets more driving experience.

Getting a driver’s licence in Alberta

In Alberta, drivers must go through the Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program to get a driver’s licence. This program has 3 stages and gives new drivers the support, skills, and experience they need to drive. The program also improves road safety, which lessens the likelihood of injuries among new drivers.

The GDL program limit the highest risk conditions for new drivers. This helps them to slowly get more experience under conditions that aren’t as risky.

In 2003, the GDL program became the law for all new drivers to take part in. Since then, all new drivers must do the GDL program before they can get a driver’s licence in Alberta. Find out more about the GDL program.

Current as of: September 16, 2021

Author: Injury Prevention, Alberta Health Services