So your teen has taken a big step and become a licensed driver- congratulations! This step is a rite of passage and an exciting one at that. After months of studying, student driving, and test prep, the time has come for them to test the waters on their own- but are they ready?
Driving is a huge responsibility, and driving alone is very different from driving with an experienced and trusted adult. Before your teen hits the road by themselves. it's a good idea to access whether or not they are ready, and set some ground rules. Just because your teen has their license doesn't mean that they can have free reign when it comes to driving.
In many states, new drivers start out with a graduated license. Be sure that you and your teen both know the rules/laws in place surrounding their newfound freedom. It may be that your teen cannot have anyone under a certain age as a passenger in the car when they are driving alone. There might also be certain curfew limits in place for their first few months or first year of driving with their new license.
Just because a teen graduates to a full license after their trial period of driving, doesn't mean that you aren't in charge. As the parent, you still set the rules for driving, and the curfew time for your student driver. You know your teen better than anyone, and hopefully, you know their friends and who they might have as passengers in the car, as well. You have every right as their parent to not allow certain friends in the car if you feel they will be too much of a distraction to your child when driving.
Make sure to sit down with your new driver and have a serious talk about laws and consequences of breaking those laws when it comes to cell phone use while driving. Many states do not allow cell phone use while driving, or require a hands-free device. Even if your state does allow talking while driving, you can still set your own rules for your teen. A good rule is asking your teen to pull off to a safe place if they need to make a call, or wait and call after they reach their destination. It's always a good idea to have them check in with you to let you know where they are and when they will be back.
Monitoring your child's driving behavior will serve both of you well. You'll be able to determine if and when your teen is mature enough to drive alone, and you'll have peace of mind in the meantime.
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