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CHP’s Start Smart Program for Teen Drivers

Torem & Associates

Will you be adding a teen driver to your household this year? If so, you will want to take advantage of every resource you can to help your teen driver learn safe driving habits. According to the California DMV, drivers between the ages of 16 to 19 years have the highest average crash and traffic violation rates compared to any other age group. Therefore, it is very important to teach your teen drivers safe driving skills from the very first time they sit down behind the wheel of a vehicle.

Start Smart Program

There are several online and in-person programs and classes you can access to help teach your teenager how to drive. One program is operated by the California Highway Patrol (CHP). The CHP’s Start Smart program is designed to educate teen drivers about the dangers of making poor choices behind the wheel. The interactive driving awareness class is a two-hour class that is free to the public. Teen drivers must attend with a full-time driving instructor, which can be the teenager’s parent or guardian.

During the 2-hour class, CHP officers share stories, answer questions, and provide information on a variety of topics relevant to teen drivers.  Some of the information discussed during the class is related to specific problems plaguing teen drivers, including DUI, speeding, and distracted driving.

Other Resources for Parents of Teen Drivers

There are many resources for parents of teen drivers. You can check with your car insurance company for programs and information. For example, State Farm offers a variety of information and tools for teen drivers and their parents. You can also check with organizations like AAA that have programs and educational tools for teenage drivers.

The key is to begin teaching your child as early as possible about the enormous responsibility a driver has each time he or she operates a vehicle. Also, you should also teach your teen driver about the consequences of reckless driving and poor decisions behind the wheel.

Tips for Teaching Teens to Drive

Begin teaching your teen to drive by setting a good example. You can exhibit safe driving behaviors by always buckling up, put away your cell phone when driving, do not drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and always obey all traffic laws, including speed limits. Other tips for teaching teens to drive that you might find useful and helpful include:

  • Before leaving the driveway, review each of the vehicle’s controls and components with your teen. Explain that you never want to be searching for the headlight or windshield wiper switches while driving.
  • Begin driving in a safe location, such as a large, empty parking lot, so that your teen can get a feel for the vehicle.
  • Beginning drivers should stay in low-traffic, low-speed areas until they are comfortable with the vehicle and driving.
  • Make sure you cover all basic driving skills before moving to a more challenging driving area (e. changing lanes, turning left, maintaining appropriate speed, braking smoothly, determining right-of-way, using turning lanes, etc.).
  • Before allowing a teen to drive alone, make sure you ride with your child as he or she attempts more advanced skills such as driving at night, driving in the rain, using the interstate, navigating toll roads, and driving in heavy traffic.

You want to spend as much time as a passenger in the car with your teen driver as it takes for your child to feel confident behind the wheel.

Contact a Fresno Teen Driver Accident Attorney

It is easy to blame a teen driver when an accident happens. However, not all accidents involving a teen driver are the teenager’s fault. If your teenager is involved in an accident, seek legal counsel as soon as possible.

Contact Torem & Associates at or by (888) 500-5000 using the contact form on our website to schedule a free consultation with a Fresno teen driver accident attorney.


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