Teen Driver Safety

Teen driver sitting in a car next to her father

New Driver Safety Class

For more information on the Smart Start Program or to register for this class, please call the Santa Barbara Area CHP office at: (805) 967-1234. This class is free and about an hour and a half long. It is held at Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital.

The first year of licensure for teens is among the most exciting and dangerous of their lives. Car crashes are the number one killer of teens. With more than 12 young people losing their lives in car crashes each day.

As their parents, we want to keep them safe—and we can, if we understand the risks teenagers face. We can help them beat the odds by staying involved as they gain experience over that first year, as they transition from novice to experienced driver.

If you are under 18 years of age, your risk of a fatal accident is about 2.5 times that of the average driver and your risk of an injury accident is three times higher than the average driver. There is no substitute for a parent's guidance as teens learn to drive. Be the coach your teen needs you to be.

California teen drivers are found at fault in 66 percent of all fatal collisions they are involved in, although they represent only four percent of the State’s licensed drivers. California has the second highest fatality rate involving drivers between the ages of 15-20, and motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death for Americans in this age bracket.

Tips for Parents

Teen holding Safe Kids logo sign
  • A written, signed agreement (some call it a contract) with your teen is a great way to help reduce crash risk. It can be very simple, and created on your own. A written document is the best way to ensure the agreement is effective. (Read an example of a Parent-Teen Driving Agreement)
  • Make sure you set clear expectations and that you both understand how these expectations can change over time.
  • Restrictions should be set early in the process and relaxed later, as your teen gets more experience on the road.
  • It should contain restrictions, privileges, rules and consequences. It is a reference, making it hard for either you or your teen to “forget” or bend the rules.
  • This written agreement might also include financial issues, personal safety, maintenance procedures and a schedule for sharing the car with the rest of the family.
  • You should mold it to fit your family’s needs, but keeping the document as simple as possible will help you focus on the most important issue: driving safety.
  • Stay involved with your teen driver. Share your experiences—challenges, tactics, tips, and what’s working for you—with other parents.

Start Smart Program

Cottage Health partners with the California Highway Patrol to offer the Start Smart Program. This free monthly class is a driver safety education program that targets new and future licensed teenage drivers between the age of 15-19, and their parents or guardians.

Discussion includes traffic collision avoidance techniques, collision causational factors, driver/parent responsibilities, seatbelt usage, etc.

The Start Smart Program is designed to help newly and future licensed teen drivers become more aware of the responsibilities that accompany the privilege of being a licensed California driver.

For more information or to register for this class, please call the Santa Barbara Area CHP office at: (805) 967-1234.

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