ICBC’s top five tips for teens behind the wheel

What your teen needs to know to drive smart

August, 2010 – The weather is hot, school is out and now your teenager wants to hit the road � in your car! In 2009, more than 50,000 teens got their first B.C. driver’s licence.

Once your teen has passed a knowledge exam and vision test, they’re permitted to get behind the wheel � with some restrictions. However, driving is especially risky when you lack experience as a new driver. Not only are new drivers more prone to crash, one in four of their crashes result in an injury or fatality.

Here are ICBC’s top five tips to help you teach your teen how to drive smart:

No. 1 � Set the right example

Driving lessons start much earlier than you may realize � your children will observe your actions and attitude from a very young age. To set a good example, remember that most driving slip-ups result from lapses of attention � stay away from anything that takes your mind from the road whether it’s food, coffee or make-up. And remember, it’s not only dangerous but it’s now against the law to use a handheld electronic device while driving. When your teen’s in the learner stage, you’ll get a copy of ICBC’s Tuning up for Drivers guide with their licence. Review it with them � it’s a great hands-on guide for new drivers and their supervisors. This is a good time for parents to brush up on the rules of the road and work on any bad habits.

No. 2 � Get in the experts

It’s certainly a good idea to give your teen as much driving experience as possible, so consider also giving them the opportunity to take some lessons with a professional driving instructor. Many driving school courses include classroom time and road safety theory. More importantly, a driving school instructor can be objective without the emotion involved in many parent-teen relationships. If you do choose this route, remember to stay involved and discuss what they’re learning.

No. 3 � Remember the restrictions

B.C.’s Graduated Licensing Program (GLP) has helped lower the crash rate of new drivers by ensuring they gain the driving experience they need in a more controlled, lower-risk environment, and then expanding their privileges as they become safer on the road.

As a parent, you should know the restrictions of the GLP and ensure that your teen sticks to them. The newest restriction bans GLP drivers from using cellphones and all electronic devices while driving, including hands-free. Some of the other key restrictions of the novice stage are:

  • You must always display your green ‘N’ sign on the back of your vehicle when driving.
  • You cannot drive with any alcohol in your body.
  • You are limited to one passenger (immediate family exempt) � unless you are driving with a supervisor 25 years or older that has a valid, full driver’s licence.

No. 4 � Put it in writing

You may want to consider creating a family contract and set of house rules that are in line with the GLP restrictions. Go to and create your own family contract that sets out your expectations of your teen, the responsibilities you want them to show on the road, and the consequences for breaking those rules. Like any contract, it should be a two-way deal � as a responsible parent, you should agree to drive your teen home if they’ve been drinking to stop them from being tempted to drive impaired.

No. 5 � Gearing up

The type of car your teen learns to drive on can make a big difference. It’s best to learn how to drive on a vehicle that’s a manageable size and has good visibility. Stick to an automatic transmission until your teen has mastered the basics. A great way to help build your teen’s confidence is to start out on roads with less traffic and avoid rush hour congestion.

As a final bonus tip, if you’re letting your teen drive your car, don’t forget to check that you have the right insurance coverage for that kind of use. If your vehicle is rated in an experienced rate class (all drivers in a household with at least 10 years’ driving experience) then the rate class will need to be changed.

Visit for more tips for parents. We also have great resources for teens like our video driving tips, which you can subscribe to online, as well as our online practice knowledge test for a learner’s licence.

About ICBC

The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia is a provincial Crown corporation established in 1973 to provide universal auto insurance to B.C. motorists.