Parenting comes with many highs and lows. There are some parenting moments that come with both at the same time. One example: a teenager who is ready to drive. The independence that comes with driving can help build character and free the parent’s schedules since parents can allow them to drive themselves to school, their job, extracurriculars and other activities.
But, as parents, we also have the concerns that come with any of these big transitions. We will ask ourselves if they are ready, if they are responsible enough, if they can focus on driving long enough to make it safely from Point A to Point B. We put in the time to help them learn to drive safely, we sign them up for driver’s ed, and we even have discussions about our expectations when they are behind the wheel.
We may question which discussions are important. What should our children know before they get behind the wheel? How can we keep them safe? The best approach is often to break these big issues down into more manageable parts. Three parts that can help increase the odds that our teenagers are safe when they drive include the following.
#1: Educate kids on safety.
Never underestimate the power of a good driver’s ed course. From rules of the road to tips from experienced drivers, our kids may be more willing to listen when they hear this information from someone other than their parents. These courses also often come with real life stories to help better ensure our children understand the dangers of drinking and driving or driving while distracted by a phone.
#2: Discuss family expectations.
Every family’s expectations will vary, but having a discussion about these expectations before your teenager starts driving can help better ensure you are all on the same page. Examples of rules and consequences that can come with these expectations may include:
- Distractions and phone use. We can often monitor when our children are using their phones. Some parents may tie repercussions to phone use at times when we know our kids are driving. This could include loss of use of the phone and/or vehicle.
- Traffic violations. Some parents choose to their new drivers pay for a change in insurance costs if they get a traffic ticket.
- Accident costs. Parking in a high school parking lot is likely to result in dings and fender benders. Having your teenager cover the cost of repairs can help to better ensure they navigate these dangerous areas with care.
These are just a starting point to a larger a conversation. Some families also find it useful to write out the expectations and put together a contract for an extra layer of accountability, signed by the parents and the teenage driver.
#3: Check the vehicle.
Make sure your kids are in a safe vehicle before they even leave the house. Check to make sure everything is in working order, including the breaks, break lights, and headlights.
Unfortunately, even when our kids do everything right accidents can happen. When that accident is the result of another driver’s negligent or reckless actions we can hold that driver accountable for their mistakes. This can result in funds to help cover the cost of the crash and a valuable lesson for our teens on the legal tools that can help us hold those who make mistakes accountable.