It’s the moment you’ve been dreading. Your teenager now has a driver’s license.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Commission paints a bleak view of teenagers behind the wheel. “Teen drivers have a higher rate of fatal crashes, mainly because of their immaturity, lack of skills, and lack of experience,” the agency warns. “They speed, they make mistakes, and they get distracted easily – especially if their friends are in the car.
Does that mean that teens shouldn’t be trusted to drive? No…but you need to start an ongoing dialogue with your child about driving safely and responsibly.
Lay Some Ground Rules
Set parameters for how and when your teenager gets to drive. For example, you could insist that cell phones stay in a purse or bag while the car is in operation. Another good rule is to limit the number of fellow teens your brand-new driver can pick up.
However, there’s no way to monitor the inside of the car 24/7. That means that your teen needs to agree to cooperate with the rules. Set as few restrictions as possible to maintain safety, and don’t go overboard on rules like “no eating in the car” or “no music.” Those are definitely going to be broken, so focus on the really important stuff.
Lead By Example
If you reach for your cell phone in the car, then your teen is much more likely to do the same. You have to set an example of what a careful, conscientious driver looks like.
Even if they won’t admit it, teens model their behavior on that of the adults in their lives. Step up your own driving game by following all traffic signs–no more going a little over the speed limit.
Enroll Both of You in a Defensive Driving Class
Want to save money on car insurance and feel better about letting your teenager drive? A defensive driving course can do both!
Many community colleges offer these courses, but in these days of social distancing, you might want to look into an online option.
Defensive driving courses are often used to get a traffic ticket dismissed or points reduced from your license; however, they can also get you a reduction on your insurance rates.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Your teen’s learning shouldn’t stop the moment they pass the driving test. Continue coaching and modeling whenever you’re behind the wheel.
In addition, give your teenager the chance to drive on short family trips around town. It’ll help boost their confidence and help them feel more responsible behind the wheel.