Web Content Viewer


Parent-Teen Training Guide - Getting Started


Parent-Teen Training Guide

Getting Started

Teen drivers tend to be high-risk drivers. Teens receive more traffic citations and are hurt and killed at a higher rate than other drivers. As a parent/guardian (terms used interchangeably in this guide), you want to keep your teen safe.



To decrease motor-vehicle collisions involving teens, a special "provisional" license and instruction permit is issued to a driver under the age of 18 (minor).

Minors may keep their driver license as long as they obey the following "provisions":

  • Obey the traffic laws and drive without a collision.
  • During the first 12 months, a teen cannot drive between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. and cannot transport passengers under age 20, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian, a licensed driver 25 years of age or older, or a licensed or certified driving instructor.


Obtain parental consent. As a parent, you may revoke your consent at any time by completing a Request for Cancellation or Surrender of a Driver License or Identification Card (DL 142) form. The form is available online at the DMV website or from any DMV office. Revoking your parental consent will cancel the minor's driver permit or license.

Complete driver education (classroom training) and driver training (behind-the-wheel training) in a public or private high school, or in a state licensed professional driving school. (The hours required for driver education and driver training classes are defined inthe California Education Code ยงยง51851 and 51852.) Internet, correspondence, or other distance based driver education training must be the equivalent of an approved classroom instruction.

Note: If you use the services of a professional driving school, ask to see the instructor's identification card and confirm that the school is licensed by DMV. Professional driving schools and instructors in California are licensed by DMV after meeting qualifying standards.

Pass the written law test. If your teen incorrectly answers 9 or more of the 46 questions on the law test, he or she must wait one week before retaking the test.

Note: A provisional instruction permit is valid only if the teen is taking a driver training class and his/her permit is signed by the instructor.

Complete at least 50 hours of supervised driving. It will take more than 15 minutes of practice time every day for six months to complete 50 hours of practice driving, of which at least 10 hours must be night driving practice. You (the parent) and the instructor must sign the statement on your teen's permit certifying that he/she has completed the supervised training. The signed permit must be returned to DMV before the driving test may be taken.

Note: What you teach your teen should agree with what is taught by the driving instructor. If your teen states that your instructions are different from the instructor's, contact the instructor to be sure you are correct.

Your teen must "hold" his/her permit longer (six months) than other drivers and practice the driving skills listed in this guide before he/she can come to the DMV for the driving test.

Pass the driving test. If your teen fails his or her driving test, he/she must wait two weeks before taking another test. Information regarding the law and driving tests are found in the California Driver Handbook, which is based on the California Vehicle Code.



While California law sets the requirements for teen driving, you as an informed parent and role model can enhance your teen's safety by assuring that he or she has adequate instruction. This Parent-Teen Training Guide helps you provide your teen with additional driving practice.

This guide DOES NOT contain all of the licensing requirements.

Before you begin the driving practice sessions, please:

  • Take the time to familiarize yourself with the California Driver Handbook, which contains all the licensing requirements.
  • Discuss with your teen the terms of a Parent-Teen Driving Contract that clearly identifies the roles and expectations of you and your teen. You may either use the contract in the centerfold of this guide or develop your own.
  • Complete a Parent-Teen Driving Contract.
  • Read this guide.


Driving is potentially dangerous for everyone, but more so for young drivers. Teen drivers are involved in more motor-vehicle collisions than any other age group for a variety of reasons, including:

Young age/lack of maturity: Teens make more judgment errors than other age groups. Your teen may drive differently and take more risks when you are not in the vehicle.

Risky driving behaviors: Teens may engage in risky driving behaviors, such as speeding, running red and yellow lights, running stop signs, tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic, and misjudging the capability of their vehicles.

Distractions: An inexperienced driver is challenged by driving distractions. Music, cell phones, pets, and passengers are best left at home while your teen is learning to drive.

Note: While driving a motor vehicle, it is illegal for a minor to talk on a cell phone or use a wireless telephone (including a hands-free device) and/or a mobile service device (pager, texting device, laptop, etc.). Fines are $20 for the first offense plus administrative court fees and $50 for the second or subsequent offense plus administrative court fees.


  • Emergency calls may be made to a law enforcement agency, health care provider, fire department, or other emergency service agency.
  • Calls may be made while driving on private property.

Driving inexperience: It takes a lot of practice to be able to safely maneuver in everyday situations. Teens show the most improvement within the first year and 1,000 miles of driving. They continue to improve through their first 5,000 miles of driving.



The best teacher is a good role model. Obey all traffic laws in a courteous manner. Whenever you have a practice driving session, be in the "practicing mood," which means you are ready, well rested, and have sufficient time.



Talk to your teen about avoiding the following high-risk driving situations:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs: Drinking any amount of alcohol impairs a person's judgment. Illicit drugs and/or alcohol (for minors) are illegal. The combination of driving and alcohol and/or drugs can be deadly.
  • High speeds: - Teen (especially male) drivers involved in severe collisions were usually driving at high speeds.
  • Passengers: - As the number of teen passengers increases, the risk of collision increases. Passengers can be a major distraction for teens.
  • Driving at night: - The highest crash risk for teen drivers occurs on weekend nights. Before allowing your teen to drive at night, have your teen extensively practice driving at night in varied types of weather with you in the vehicle.
  • Visual obstructions: - Anything that restricts or obscures the driver's view and ability to gather accurate information poses a danger. Examples include curves in the road, hill crests, bushes, signs, parked vehicles, large vehicles, and inclement weather, such as heavy fog or rain.
  • Seat belt non-use: - If your vehicle suddenly stops and you do not have your seat belt fastened, your body keeps moving at the speed of travel until you hit the dashboard or windshield. A sudden stop after traveling at 30 miles per hour (mph) is like falling to the ground from the top of a three-story building. If you were struck from the side, the impact could push you back and forth across the seat. The use of shoulder harnesses with lap belts helps protect the driver and passengers from serious or fatal injuries in the event of a crash.

The graphics below illustrate what can happen in a collision:

This is an image of a what happens to a driver without a shoulder harness upon impact from another vehicle.

Note: Lap-only belts increase the chance of spinal column and abdominal injuries-especially in children. The use of a seat belt reduces the chance of being thrown from a vehicle in case of a collision.



  1. Review and agree to the terms of a Parent-Teen Driving Contract, such as the model contract in this guide. After agreeing to the terms, you and your teen should initial the responsibilities that apply and sign the contract.
  2. The suggested lesson plan lists the driving skills your teen driver should practice. These skills are divided into four different levels.
  3. Read the directions for the skill you wish your teen to practice and log them on the Supervised Driving Log.
  4. Discuss the directions with your teen.
  5. Check the directions in this guide to be sure the skill is performed correctly.
  6. Demonstrate how to perform the skill correctly, such as backing up.
  7. Have your teen practice the skill.
  8. When you decide that your teen can perform a certain skill easily and well, double-check the directions and note the driving skill on the Supervised Driving Log.
  9. Review with your teen the high risk conditions and the advice on special driving problems and emergency situations in this guide.
  10. Use the Safe Driver Checklist on pages 24 and 25. When you decide that your young driver is ready to apply for a license, take him or her on a "test" drive. Make sure that your teen performs all the items on this list correctly. Spend more practice time with your teen on any item missed.
  11. Before your teen takes the driving test, read, "Is Your Teen Ready for a License?". You may have overlooked some important practice your new driver needs.


  • Review your teen's instruction permit. It may contain additional instructions.
  • Take this guide along.
  • During the first lesson or two, practice only during daylight hours in a quiet, uncongested area when the weather conditions are good. As your teen's skills increase, gradually expose him or her to different roads, weather conditions, varying traffic conditions, and times of day.
  • Be familiar with the practice area and any hazards, signs, or signals.
  • Be patient, sympathetic, and understanding.
  • Keep your voice calm.
  • Sit in a position where you can grab the steering wheel or step on the brake, if necessary.
  • Before starting the engine, have your teen:
    • Consult your owner's manual to determine whether your vehicle has an antilock brake system (ABS) on all four wheels or ABS just on the rear wheels. (ABS prevents wheels on a motor vehicle from locking while braking.) If in doubt, contact the dealer.
    • Adjust the seat, if necessary.
    • Adjust the mirrors.
    • Fasten the seat belt(s). For the best protection, the lap belt or lap and shoulder belts should be adjusted to fit the driver and/or passengers.
    • Show you the location of the following controls: 4-way flashers, emergency brake, heater/defroster, horn, headlights, and windshield wipers.
    • Explain how each control works.
  • Show your teen how to properly start the engine and what to do to start driving.
  • Stop practicing when your teen becomes tired or upset and show him/her how to turn off the engine when safe.
  • If you see a bad traffic situation ahead (one your teen cannot handle), pull over and stop.
  • Until your teen has learned the traffic rules and how to control the vehicle, practice in a vehicle with an automatic transmission, if possible, because it is easier to drive.

Note: Children 8 years of age and older must be properly secured with an appropriate safety belt. Children under 8 years of age, who are less than 4 feet 9 inches tall, must be properly secured in a child passenger restraint system that meets federal safety standards. However, children under 8 years of age, who are 4 feet 9 inches tall or taller, may be secured with an appropriate safety belt instead of a child passenger restraint system.

A child may not ride in the front seat of an airbag-equipped vehicle if the child:

  • Is less than one year of age.
  • Weighs less than 20 lbs.
  • Is riding in a rear-facing child passenger restraint system.


  1. Give directions in a clear, calm voice well in advance. Allow your teen enough time to follow them.
  2. Tell your new driver where you want something done before you say what you want done. For example, you should say, "Up ahead, at the next corner, turn right." If you say, "turn right at the corner" your teen may react before you have completed your instructions.
  3. When answering questions, use the word "correct," rather than "right," which may be mistaken as a direction for a turn rather than an answer to a question.
  4. Avoid using only the word "Stop" because it often panics a beginning driver. Instead say "bring your car to a stop."


Level I

Your teen should practice controlling the vehicle during the first lessons. No time plan is given here. These driving sessions should give your teen practice in the basic skills listed below:

Level II

Only after your teen can shift gears (if necessary, in your vehicle), backup, and turn easily and safely should you begin practicing the skills listed below:

Level III

After the Level I and Level II skills are mastered, the skills listed below can be practiced:

Level IV

Only after your teen has mastered control of the vehicle and the skills in Levels I, II, and III, should he or she practice night driving and freeway driving.

Take a Check Ride

When your teen has finished practicing the skills in Level IV, look at the Safe Driver Checklist. Read the directions. Make sure you and your teen go on the "test ride" described. This test ride should show you if your new driver needs more practice.

previous page | table of contents | next page

Complementary Content