Learning to drive is a milestone in every teen’s life. It is a time of independence for both parent and teen as teens can now begin driving themselves around, to and from various activities. It can also be a time of stress for parents, since a lack of experience can often lead to dangerous situations and potential accidents.
One way you as a parent can encourage safe driving by your teen is to set some rules for when he or she is driving. Before you lay the rules out, however, make sure your teen understands that driving is a privilege, not a right of passage. In addition, he or she should know that these rules are only in place for their safety as well as the safety of others on the road.
The following are some good rules to set when your teen is beginning to drive.
No cell phone use. Cell phones are more of a necessity than a luxury now, especially when on the road. They can literally be lifesavers if you get lost, run out of gas, or get in an accident. However, they can also cause accidents if they are used improperly. Tell your teen he or she can only talk on the phone if they are using a hands-free device or if they pull the car over or park. More and more states are adopting rules about this, so check your state’s as well. Also, there should be no texting whatsoever allowed while driving.
Certain number of people. One of the great things about having a teen who can drive is their new ability to take themselves places, like school or work or social activities. However, friends can be a distraction while driving. It’s not a bad idea to set a limit to the number of people that can be in the car at a time. At the very least, everyone should have a seatbelt.
Keep the car maintained. If your teen is borrowing one of your cars for his or her use, he or she should be responsible for keeping it maintained. This means getting oil changes, making sure the fluid levels are correct. Part of driving is maintaining and caring for a vehicle.
Always wear a seatbelt. This is a must for teen drivers and all drivers, really. Many states also have laws regarding seatbelt usage as well, so it might be required by law anyway.
Always obey speed limits. Make sure your teen knows that the car he or she is driving can be deadly and it can be easy to get out of control if they drive too fast. Make sure they know to obey all speed limits.
It will be important that your teen follows these rules for his or her own safety. Since you are not going to be in the car with your teen most of the time when he or she is driving, it can be difficult to enforce these rules. Some parents draw up an agreement and have their teen sign it. That may or may not work with your child. But speeding tickets or accidents that are your teen’s fault should result in restricted driving privileges.
These are just a few ideas of rules you can set to ensure the safety of your teen driver and all those he or she comes in contact with on the road.