Teaching Your Teen to Drive
Colorado implemented Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws to help teenagers gain important driving skills gradually while limiting dangers. Whereas the GDL laws aren’t always convenient for busy parents and teens, their impact on saving young lives is indisputable. Teen traffic deaths are down 67% since GDL laws went into effect in Colorado in 2005.
Definitions and details
Passenger restrictions: For the first six months, your teen cannot have any passengers under age 21, unless a parent or another licensed adult driver is in the vehicle. If after the first six months, you feel your teen is responsible enough to drive unsupervised with friends, he or she may do so with only one passenger under age 21 for the next six months. Siblings and passengers with medical emergencies are exceptions. At any time, no more than one passenger is allowed in the front seat.
Mandatory seat belts: By law, ALL teen drivers and passengers must wear seat belts (no sharing!). Teen drivers are also responsible for the safety of their passengers and can be ticketed if they are not properly wearing seat belts.
Power down!: Distracted driving can have deadly consequences. Teens under age 18 are prohibited from texting or talking on a cell phone while driving. Teens can be fined and may risk losing their license. Exceptions include emergency calls to the police or fire department.
Curfew: For the first year as a licensed driver, teen drivers must abide by a curfew – no driving between midnight and 5 a.m. unless accompanied by an instructor, parent or legal guardian. Exceptions include driving to and from school or work (signed statement from school or work is required), medical emergencies and emancipated minors.
Zero tolerance for drunk driving: Driving under the influence of alcohol – even a trace of alcohol on minor drivers – is punishable by law. Parents and teens should devise a back up plan if necessary to make sure the teen arrives home safely. For a refresher on all traffic laws, parents can review the Department of Revenue’s Drivers Handbook: www.Colorado.gov/Revenue/DMV. The Parent GDL Online Course is available at www.COTeenDriver.com.
Other ways teens can lose their license: Teens can lose his or her driver’s license for being caught with alcohol or marijuana, even when not behind the wheel. Recent updates to the Minor in Possession laws state that an alcohol or marijuana violation by anyone under 21 will result in an automatic loss of the violator’s driver’s license.