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5 Tips for Parents of Teens Learning to Drive

If you have an eager teen who is about to get behind the wheel, Mighty Mommy has 5 tips that can help keep you sane and a little less anxiety ridden.

By
Cheryl Butler,
Episode #432

Tip #4: Consider Professional Driving Lessons

I did teach most of my kids to drive, however, I did have one child who was just too nervous to have me instructing so after only a couple of times driving together we both agreed that professional driving lessons were the way to go.

In 3 Benefits of a Driving School Training Program, the author states that drivers too often get on the road without having enough knowledge of road rules that are required to be a safe driver: “To combat this, driving school teaches at almost an individual level. It pairs trained driving professionals with teen drivers to give them the best possible education of the rules and procedures of the road. It’s one thing to read about street laws and driving practices; it is another thing altogether to experience them firsthand.”

The article also explains that teenage drivers either display overconfidence or lack of confidence which can lead to more teen traffic accidents: “Driving school helps young drivers gain the confidence they need to be safe, effective drivers without being overbearing on the roads. It doesn’t help teens to have a nervous parent yelling at them from the passenger seat. The best thing is to put the task into the hands of a patient professional.”

Tip #5: Teen Driving Contract

I’ll never forget the first time I handed over the car keys to my oldest daughter when she got her driver’s license. She was 16 ½, a straight A student, and super responsible.  I watched her pull out of the driveway in my minivan, alone, and remained in a near catatonic state for minutes after she left our neighborhood.  She was supposed to be going to pick up milk at the store up the street, and should return safely in less than 20 minutes.  An hour later (we didn’t have cell phones then!) she still hadn’t come back.  Two hours later, still no Brittany. My mind went straight to the worse scenario—she was rolled over in a ditch, submerged in water and no one would ever find her!  Finally, nearly three hours after she left my prayers were answered, and she returned safely, with a gallon of warm milk.   

She was so excited about getting her license that she decided to drive to a few of her friend’s houses. It turned into a mini celebration, and she lost track of time.  It wasn’t her intention to drive me insane with worry, but it was then that I realized we were going to have to set some clear rules about driving alone.

Many driving schools and insurance companies recommend that you have your teen driver sign a driving contract.

Many driving schools and insurance companies recommend that you have your teen driver sign a driving contract. This helps define exactly what is permitted and not acceptable for your student driver once they earn their license.

Teendriving.com has a sample driving contract that outlines some safety, good driving skills and some miscellaneous areas such as:

The Car

  • Which car(s) your teen is allowed to drive. The contract should specify clearly.

  • Good car care: putting gas in when needed, oil changes, tire pressure, and regular maintenance. Also, keeping the car free of clutter and trash.

  • Insurance decisions. If your teen will be paying for their own insurance, the contract is a great place to have it stated. Some parents find that having their teen pay for insurance provides some incentive for avoiding reckless on-road behavior that often results in accidents.

Safety

  • Always obey the speed limit and traffic laws, and always wear seat belts. They should make sure any passengers are buckled up as well.

  • Let you know where they are coming and going.

  • Never use cell phones while driving. This is incredibly important to stress to them.

  • Never engage in drinking or drug use.

  • Not drive with friends in the car for a while. We suggest that teens not be allowed to drive with friends or even younger siblings in the car for the first six to twelve months of having their license, unless an adult is also in the car. Friends or siblings can be huge distractions.

  • Have a curfew. Night driving is especially difficult for a new driver, and more accidents happen in the 9pm-2am time frame than during the daylight hours. Set realistic curfews, but also tell teens that if they are running late, it’s always better to drive safely than speed to make up the minutes.

They also suggest giving rewards when your teen honors this contract, such as paying for a week's worth of gas, a slightly extended curfew, or a free car wash. 

How have you managed a new driver? Please share your thoughts in the comments section at quickanddirtytips.com/mighty-mommy, post your ideas on the Mighty Mommy Facebook page. or email me at mommy@quickanddirtytips.com. Visit my family-friendly boards at Pinterest.com/MightyMommyQDT.

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