A driving teenager can be a scary experience. Giving that much trust and responsibility to a 16 year old is a terrifying but important coming of age experience for both you and your teen. However, you can’t just give them the keys and let them run amuck. Driving is a privilege, not a right. You have to set rules for your driving teen. Read on for a few helpful ideas.
Involve Your Teen in Rule-Making
No matter what rules you decide to implement, you should involve your teen in the decision making process. This will help them feel like you trust them, but also help them feel more responsible for the rules. Allow them to help you come up with consequences for breaking the rules as well. They will be more likely to keep the rules if they helped make them.
Stick To Your Guns
Whatever rules you and your teen come up with, stick to them. If the rules get broken, it is important to enforce the punishment that you decided upon. It might be hard to punish your teen, especially if it means that you revoke their driving privileges (and you have to drive them to basketball), but you might have to. Just make sure that the punishments are equal to the crime they committed.
This one should be a given, as underage drinking (and drinking while driving) is illegal. However, according to this blog, 23% of Americans between age 12 and 20 currently drink alcohol, and ⅓ of high school seniors report drinking in the past month. While the numbers are declining, underage drinking is still a real problem. While it may seem harsh, you should make a very strict rule about drinking (especially drinking and driving). If you ever catch your teen doing either, all car privileges are revoked.
No One Else Drives The Car
While you may trust your son or daughter with the keys, that doesn’t mean that you trust their friends. Make a strict rule that nobody else drives the car but your child. It may be a good idea to limit the number of passengers your child can have as well, as the more friends are in the car, the more likely your teen is to become distracted. A good rule is two passengers.
They Have to Drive Their Siblings
If your teen has younger siblings, make a rule that they need to drive their siblings around too. It’s kind of a way of letting them“pay” for the use of your car (it also means that you don’t have to drive them).
Let Them Fill Up The Car
Make your teens responsible for filling up the car with gas every time they use it. This will also help them learn how to fill up a car and understand the true cost of driving.
Texting and driving is a serious epidemic. Every day, 11 teens die due to texting while driving. One in every four car accidents is caused by texting while driving. In many states, texting while driving is illegal, but many people do it anyway. One of your rules should be that your teen is not allowed to text while driving. If you don’t trust your teen, you can have them download apps on their phone that encourage your teen to drive safer, or even disable texting entirely while they drive.
Driving at Night
Driving at night is dangerous for all ages, but especially dangerous for your kids. Work with your kids to set a curfew to keep them safe at night. Check your local laws and make sure that you obey city curfew laws. Talk to your teen about consequences for breaking curfew, and what privileges they will lose if they do.
They Help With Repairs
If the car needs repairs (or even just emissions and inspections), your teen will be responsible for helping make those repairs. They will take the car to the mechanic for each and every oil change, and once a year, take it in for emissions and inspections (unless you live in a state where it’s not required. To learn more about that debate, check out this blog). Not only does this take some off of your plate, it will teach them the true responsibility of owning a car.
You Still Own The Car
At the end of the day, you still own the car. Your teen may drive it and be able to use it whenever they need it, but it is important to stress that it is still your car. If they break any rules, you can take it back.
Get A Good Car
It may be tempting to buy a junk car for your teen, but it is a better idea to get them something reliable, so that you don’t have to worry that your teen will get stuck on the side of the road somewhere. You don’t need to buy a brand new car, just something that they will be safe driving.