Ask a Trooper: How do I warn others that my child is now a driver?
The trooper gives advice on skills to help your child become a confident and safe driver out on the road.
Question: I have a question as a dad who wants to alert other drivers that my newly licensed daughter is on the road. I would like to put a “student driver” decal on the vehicle. Can I do that? If so, does a student need to be driving?
Answer: First of all, let me say congratulations on having a newly licensed driver. As a parent, it brings mixed emotions to see your child with this newfound responsibility. As the father of three young boys, I can understand how you are feeling. I once read somewhere, “To have a child is to decide forever to let your heart go walking around outside your body.”
Getting back to your question about placing a “student driver” sign or decal on your vehicle. I am not aware of any statue or rules prohibiting it. However, driver education school cars are required to say “student driver” on them. To avoid any confusion, I might suggest using the phrase “novice driver” instead. Whether you want to keep it on the vehicle is your decision.
If you do place a sign or decal on the vehicle, make sure that it is not in a windshield or window as that would be an equipment violation and safety issue. It takes a commitment by parents and many hours to prepare teen drivers to get behind the wheel. That doesn’t end when a teen gets their license. Teens shouldn't be driving alone the first time they hit the road when it snows. Parents should practice with their teens in different types of scenarios before their teen hits the road solo.
My best advice:
- Train the teen on a variety of road types (urban, rural) and in different conditions (nighttime, rain, snow).
- Provide significant supervised driving experience for the teen — use a driving skills checklist.
- Talk with the teen to reinforce teen driver laws and set limits (such as passengers, nighttime driving) — use a driving contract between parent and teen.
- Continue to monitor and train teens during the period of greatest crash risk — the first six to 12 months after licensure.
If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Trooper Jesse Grabow – Minnesota State Patrol at 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205. (You can follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NW or reach him at, firstname.lastname@example.org ).