When teens learn to drive, it's definitely a right of passage. A lot of kids look at getting their driver's license with stars in their eyes, forgetting that driving is a huge responsibility. When you're behind the wheel, you're responsible for your own life, not to mention anyone else who is riding as a passenger in the car with you. Parents often feel that this time in a child's life is bittersweet, and somewhat frightening. Though kids learn to drive through Driver's Ed courses, it's still the parent's responsibility to teach their children responsibility and accountability when it comes to driving and owning a car.
Before handing over the keys to the car (be it your car or their car) to your child, you will probably want to sit them down for an honest conversation about rules and expectations. No where is it written that teens have to be allowed to drive- this is solely up to the parent or guardian. Just because your child has a driver's licesnse, doesn't mean that you have to let them get behind the wheel if you as a parent don't think that they are responsible enough to be driving on their own. Assess your child's behavior, including that of when they are around their friends. It may be an unpopular decision, but you're allowed to lay down the law when it comes to who your child may or may not have in the car with them while they are driving. Be sure to check state laws regarding any restrictions that may come along with graduated licenses.
Set a curfew. Teens have no reason to be out all hours of the night. May license programs have a six month curfew that must be followed. You can also implement your own curfew, even after the graduated license period has come to an end. If you want your child to be home and off of the road by a certain time, make it known, and make the consequences known as well, if they fail to comply.
Make a hands free at all times rule. So many accidents occur among teen drivers due to texting/looking at their phones while they are driving. In most states in the US, it is illegal to text and drive. Some states also have laws in place prohibiting the use of a phone while driving at all. Make sure your child has a hands free device (bluetooth) for emergencies. Roll with the 'it can wait' campaign, encouraging your child to wait until they are safely off the road to make a call, send a text, check an e-mail, etc. No one should be looking at a screen and driving at the same time.
They've heard it all before, but warn your teen about the dangers of driving while under the influence. Be proactive about knowing where your child is going, and who they will be with. Make sure they always leave the house with a charged phone, and put a rule in place that if you call or text them, they must answer within a certain amount of time.
Teach your child how to take care of the car- whether it's their car, or the family car. If your teen winds up stranded by the roadside, or they get into a fender bender, they will need to know what steps to take. Teach them how to change a tire, and make sure that they know where the registration and insurance information is located. At the very least, make sure that they know to call you if they are ever in an uncertain situation or need help,
Passing the car keys to your teen is an exciting time in their life, and yours. Make it a safe, happy one, as well.
Brought to you by McLoughlin Chevy.