Summer isn't far away, and teens everywhere are just ithing to get out of their classrooms and into their cars for some summer driving. Those first few days and weeks of summer, teens may feel like they want to take a lot of joyrides, so it's imporant to have an honest conversation with them about rules and expectations regarding driving during the summer months.
It's hard to bring down the parental hammer on your kids, especially if you are particularly close to them. Keep in mind, however, that it's your job to keep your kids safe, and to teach them responsibility. Sometimes that means that you have to law down the law and put rules in place to protect them. Your teen has probably been dreaming about summer break since January. You definitely won't want to crush their spirits, but do want to make sure that they understand that driving isn't a time to goof off or be wild.
With so many fun songs about driving, like Eve 6's Open Road Song (an oldie, but a goodie), it's easy for teens to have daydreams about what driving along an open road with their friends could be like. Driving with a car full of friends, music blaring, with the top down is a fun fantasy, but in reality, it could be a potentially dangerous situation.
As their parent, you have every right to set limits as to who your teen is allowed to have in their car, or who your teen is allowed to ride with. If you don't feel like your teen will be safe if they're riding with a friend, don't let them get into their car. If your teen has friends who are distracting, and may be a bad influence, ban them from riding in your child's car. You're not out to make best friends with your teen or their friends- you're interested in keeping everyone safe.
Help your teen understand the dangers of distracted driving. Make it a rule that devices stay out of hands while driving. Make sure the teen driver has a hands-free way to answer or make phone calls, if needed. Talking on the phone while driving should only happen in emergency situations. Otherwise, encourage them to pull over or to get to a safe place to make a call. Absolutely no texting while driving. In most states, texting while driving is illeagal. Make sure they know the dangers, and the consequences of texting while driving.
Set curfews. If your teen doesn't have their full driver's license yet, they may alreay have a curfew that they have to stick to. If they don't, it's perfectly acceptable for you to set a curfew for weeknights and weekends. They may not like it, but having your kids off the road when accidents involving drunk drivers are more likely to occur will put your mind at ease.
Make sure your teen knows that if they drive your car (or theirs) during the summer, they will be expected to help pay for gas, and to keep the car clean. This will give them a taste of what it's like to own their own car, and what they expenses that come with it are like.
Your teen can still enjoy those awesome days of driving with the sun shining down on them, as long as everyone's on the same page about safety and expectations.
Happy summer driving!
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