Distracted teenager driving a car with his cell phone in his hand

In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of teenage car crashes caused by distracted driving in Texas. According to the C.R.I.S. Query Database from the Texas Department of Transportation, the number of crashes involving teens and drivers under the age of 21 was 211,803 and included these causes from 2017:1

  • Speeding
  • Smartphone Use
  • Distracted Driving (Texting, Drowsy Driving, etc.)
  • Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs
  • Driving Too Fast in Work Zones

To combat this growing problem, the Texas Department of Transportation made several changes to state laws for all drivers, including teens.

What Parents Can Do to Help Their Teen Drivers

One of the best things parents can do is sign up their teens for a Texas approved defensive driving course online. This course teaches teen drivers about how to drive defensively. It covers a wide range of traffic laws and how to become a safer and better driver.

Another online course parents can register their teens for is the Texas Drug and Alcohol Driving Awareness course. This course teaches teen drivers about alcohol and drugs, as well as the effects these substances have on driving.

Both of these online courses are state-approved, and in many cases can be used to save money on auto insurance costs with a number of insurance providers. Upon successful completion of the online courses, your teen may be able to use their completion certificates to qualify for an auto insurance discount. Parents are also encouraged to complete these courses to take advantage of the auto insurance discount. We do recommend that you contact your provider for participation details.

How Has Texas Driving Laws Changed?

As of September 1, 2017, Texas state law prohibits the use of mobile devices while driving to text, read emails, access social media apps, watch videos, and other such distracting behaviors for ALL drivers. Texas has also updated its Graduate Driver License (GDL) program for new drivers.

The updated guidelines are designed to help new teen drivers practice and develop safe driving habits in reduced risk driving environments. There are two phases teen drivers must complete in order to earn driving privileges in Texas.

The first one is to obtain a new driver learner’s permit. This permit allows drivers under the age of 18 to start developing safe driving habits. It is highly recommended that before allowing your teen to drive they complete the online defensive driving course in Texas. It is a great way for any new driver to get additional detailed information that they might not have received in standard driver education.

Teens with a permit must drive with their parents or legal guardian for a set number of hours and complete various requirements. The minimum amount of time a teen is required to drive with a permit is six months. However, many parents who do not feel their teen is ready to drive unsupervised can decide to require their teen to drive longer on their permit.

young driver and his father smiling into camera

Once they satisfy the first phase’s requirements, they are issued what is called a provisional driver license. This driver license has several conditions your teen must adhere to in order to keep their driving privileges:

  • A teen cannot drive between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m., unless they are working, need to attend school or a school function, or have an emergency.
  • A teen cannot use any wireless/mobile device in the vehicle while driving until they turn 21, including using hands-free technologies while driving.
  • A teen cannot drive with more than one passenger in the vehicle under the age of 21.

Please keep in mind, it is up to parents to review the current GDL program requirements for any updates/changes.

You can register your teen or yourself in our Texas defensive driving course online today! You may also call us at 1-800-558-9887 if you have further questions or need help registering.

Source:

  1. https://cris.dot.state.tx.us/public/Query/app/welcome