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For many parents, the idea of your son or daughter driving can be one to cause some serious anxiety. In one respect it frees us up as the family taxi driver and in the other it gives our young person an opportunity to be independent and develop responsibility. The question is ... are you and your child ready for this level of independence? The following article gives some tips on how to usher into this new phase of development with your driving teen. If you take the time to educate and discuss rules and boundaries you are offering them an opportunity to develop an important skill.
Here are some useful things to think about as you look at putting your teenager on the road. These suggestions come from Edmunds.com. as well as Dr. Lawrence Steinberg, Distinguished University Professor of Psychology , Temple University and the author of the book You and Your Adolescent: The Essential Guide for Ages 10 to 25.
• Do not allow your teenager to drive with other teen passengers in the car until he or she is experienced behind the wheel. The presence of other adolescents in the car greatly increases the risk of a crash and the risk increases with each additional passenger.
• Phase in driving gradually, limiting driving in less safe conditions at first. Many states also limit nighttime driving by newly licensed drivers. Limit driving in bad weather during the first few months after your adolescent is licensed.
• Do not allow your teenager to use a cell phone or similar device while driving. Much has been written about the danger of texting while driving, which is considerable. But talking on the phone, even hands-free, increases the risk of a crash, too. Multitasking is dangerous for anyone behind the wheel.
• Set a good example. Your adolescent is learning by watching your behavior behind the wheel. Wear your seatbelt, drive carefully, obey the rules of the road and pull over if you need to answer your phone or make a call. This will increase the chances that your adolescent will drive safely, too.
• Make it clear that driving is a privilege. Even if your adolescent has her own car, you are still in charge of whether, when and under what conditions she is permitted to drive. Explain she will lose this privilege if she doesn't follow the rules you set down.
• Other important matters to consider. You and the adolescent should also discuss who will pay for gas, insurance, parking tickets and other car expenses. Again, depending on your situation and the teenager's finances and activities, you might decide to carry all of the cost during high school or require her to contribute to some of these expenses. Whatever you decide, the adolescent should know that insurance premiums increase significantly when a young driver is added to the policy. If the adolescent gets a ticket for a moving violation, the cost of insurance will rise even more. One way to bring home the importance of safe driving is to point out that if the teenager gets a speeding ticket or has an accident, you may not be able to afford to insure him.
.Here are some other web resources to explore this topic.
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www.nhtsa.gov: see Parents Central for fact sheets for novice drivers on topics such as Alcohol and Driving, and Driver Distraction
www.iihs.org: Beginning Teen Drivers brochure
www.cdc.gov/ParentsAretheKey: Parent-Teen Driving Agreement, Eight Danger Zones handout
www.nsc.org: videos, posters, infographics for a website (may be distributed for educational purposes, but must include the statement: Permission to reprint granted by the National Safety Council, a membership organization dedicated to protecting life and promoting health.)
www.aaa.com: StartSmart Parent-Teen Driving Agreement; Becoming the New Driver in your Family brochure
Last Updated: 9/2/14