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Keeping your teen driver safe on Seattle's roads

Watching your teen sit behind the wheel of your car for the first time can be a truly terrifying ordeal. Your child, who seemingly just a few years ago required you to push them in a stroller, now has the ability to go anywhere.

Of course, getting a driver's license is a right of passage, and your parents probably felt the same way watching you take the keys of the family car. However, with more distractions now than ever before, your teen will need to take driving precautions extra seriously while out driving around Seattle. To keep your teen driver safe, here are a few tips to follow.

Set a good example.

While teens spend time with a professional driving instructor as part of the driver training process, studies show that they actually take more of their driving habits from you. That's why you need to set the best driving examples possible. Stay off the phone while driving. Avoid yelling out of frustration at other drivers. Most importantly, follow the rules of the road. Even though it might require you to slow down a bit or delay that business conversation with the office, it helps outline quality habits for your teen to follow.

Don't take shortcuts on driving practice requirements.

Your teen driver needs to log at least 50 hours of out-of-class practice time with you, including 10 hours of nighttime driving, before qualifying for a first license. Truth be told, this often is a very stressful 50 hours for both you and your teen.

Despite all this, don't cut corners or add time to their time sheet. Make sure all 50 hours are complete. In the early months and years of working towards a license (and soon thereafter), every minute of driving experience counts. So stick it out and hang in there with the 50 hours. Wouldn't you rather be with your teen as they practice, rather than letting that practice happen without you?

Look to the apps.

Sure, smartphones now offer plenty of distractions. The devices can also provide plenty of helpful security features as well. Both Spring and AT&T provide "Drive Mode" applications. By reading GPS movement, the phones can detect when someone is moving in the car. This locks out the texting feature, which is a top distraction for drivers. You can download and install the application onto your child's phone. This way, you know they aren't texting and driving.

When a teen first receives their license, they may try to push the limits of where they go and what they do with the vehicle. Chances are, you'll want to prohibit them from going to certain locations, but how can you do this? This is a tool your parents never had, but now you are free to take advantage of. Consumer Reports points to a few different vehicle plug-ins that directly send information to your phone. Mastrack and Motosafety are two devices that feed you not only GPS information, but how fast they are driving and other driving habits. With this information, you always know where they are going, when they are driving and if they are obeying the law.

Some vehicle manufacturers provide "Young Drivers Intelligence Services" installed directly into the vehicle, so you don't need to worry about plug-ins at all, but it is a subscription based service, generally with a yearly fee of around $280 or so. An option, but if you don't want to pay the high fees, the plug-in features can often work just as well.

Set the ground rules.

Above all else, after your teen receives their license, you need to set up rules and guidelines for how that license is used. From where they can go to how many people are in the car at once, make sure your teen driver knows what is expected of them and what may happen if they disobey your rules.

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Seattle, WA 98104

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