Many parents struggle with the milestone when their child first gets behind the wheel of a car on their own. Sending their child off alone, with no one to guide them, can be terrifying, especially with the statistics on teen accidents and plenty of articles on the risks associated with distracted driving and other problems. If you're setting your teen loose on the road, there are several teen driving rules that you should institute to keep your teen safe.
Rule #1: No Technology in the Car
Cell phones, tablets, and any other technology devices should be banned from the front seat of the car entirely. Teach your child to secure their devices in the glove box, leave them in the back seat, or keep them in the trunk to ensure that when they're driving, they won't be distracted. This includes iPods and other music players, which can lead to serious distractions behind the wheel. The only piece of technology your teen will ever need to operate while driving is a GPS, which they should be reminded to program before the car is placed in drive.
Rule #2: Request Permission for Passengers
Many states now have laws that restrict the number of passengers a teen driver can have in their car. Outside of those laws, insist that your teen ask for permission before transporting passengers in their car. This helps you guide your teen toward making responsible decisions about who is in the car with them, how many passengers they can transport as their license restrictions are reduced, and the times when it's more dangerous for them to have passengers in the car. Keep in mind your teen's responsibility level, driving capability, and ability to handle distractions as well as the likelihood that a particular passenger will cause a distraction.
Rule #3: Adhere to Curfew
Your teen's curfew is in place to keep them safe. While some graduated licenses restrict the hours when teens can drive, others allow parents to monitor their teens' behavior. Not only is there more trouble to be found as the hour grows later, many teens are more tired, struggling to drive safely as their curfew inches past. Insist that your teen adhere to their curfew--and if they don't, take their keys until they can be more responsible. Make sure that you put in plenty of nighttime hours driving with your child. If they aren't comfortable driving after it gets dark, institute a driving curfew before sunset until that changes.
Rule #4: Call If You Don't Feel Safe
Let your teen know that you're always available to come rescue them if they don't feel safe driving home. Whether road conditions have deteriorated faster than anticipated, the road was busier than they thought, or they've simply gotten lost, your teen should always feel comfortable pulling over and calling you to come get them. The same applies for parties where there is drinking: you'd rather come pick up a teenager who has ended up in a bad situation than find out later that they were driving drunk.
You also want our child to call you first any time there's an accident or something happens on the road. While you'll do your best to prepare your teen for accidents and other events, calling you will give them the support they need to handle those situations maturely and responsibly.
Rule #5: Maintain Appropriate Maintenance
If your teen has their own car, they need to be responsible for it. From putting gas in the tank before it hits empty to getting the oil changed and keeping the right air pressure in the tires, car maintenance can be the difference between a reliable vehicle and one that leaves them stranded. Encourage your teen to keep up with regular car maintenance tasks. If you're sharing a car, remind your teen that they should never bring it back with an empty gas tank: set specific guidelines for "how low is too low," and insist that they be responsible for keeping up with it.
Many teen drivers are highly responsible individuals who are ready for the new challenges of a driver's license and the freedom that comes with it. By setting a few rules in place before your child is set free on the road, however, you can help ensure your child's safety behind the wheel. Want to learn more about setting appropriate rules for your teenage driver? Contact us today.