According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, in 2006 there were 126 fatal car crashes involving teens in the state of Virginia. As much as you’d like to lock up your teenagers in their bedrooms to keep them safe and throw away the keys until they’re in their 20’s, the fact of the matter is, they need to learn how to drive sometime!

It’s important to be aware of teen driving laws in the state of Virginia before handing the keys over to your teen. Here are a few safety tips and rules to keep in mind:

Assess Comfort Level

Be aware that not all teens are completely ready to drive at 16. Everyone is unique with different learning curves. Some teens are very quick learners who can handle the pressure of driving, while other teens will need more practice. You as a parent can usually decipher your teen’s skill and comfort level. Don’t allow your teen to drive alone if he/she is still not completely comfortable behind the wheel.

Driving School is Cool

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles has a policy that requires teen drivers to go through 50 hours of driver education and 45 hours of adult-supervised driving. If you don’t have much patience and can’t keep a level head while teaching your teen how to drive, it might be best to enroll him/her in a quality driving school. They’ll learn from a professional teacher who is updated on current driving laws.

No Cell Phone or Text Messaging

Remind teens, especially if they are 16 or 17-years-old, that cell phone use or text messaging is against the law in the state of Virginia. This law applies to both handheld and hands-free phones.

No Driving After Midnight

Virginia has a driving curfew for teens under the age of 18 which restricts driving between the hours of midnight and 4 a.m. Drivers younger than 18 can only drive if accompanied by a parent, if there is an emergency, or if they work as rescue personnel.

Keep in mind that car accidents involving teenagers are more common at night, especially if they have other teens in the car with them. You can improve their safety by reminding them that according to Virginia law, they can only carry one passenger under 18 with them during their first year of driving. After they have had their license for one year, they can carry up to three passengers under the age of 18.

Keep the lines of communication open with your teen and check in with them every so often to get a feel of their driving behaviors and habits. Also, be aware of your own driving habits because teens tend to emulate their parent’s behaviors. The better role model you are, the better drivers they will be!

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