If you have children, it’s likely you’ll eventually face the time when they’re ready to get their driver’s licenses. This exciting time for your teen can be one full of fear and stress for you.
After all, not only is your baby going out into the world alone, but they’ll be behind the wheel of a moving vehicle. It’s scary!
Here are some things you can do to prepare your teen—and yourself—to take on the open road.
Draw up a Driving Contract
Before your teen can get their license, they have to take a test that shows they understand and plan to abide by the rules of the road. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t put additional conditions on their driving, over and above those from the state.
Work with your teen to draw up a driving contract, or a set of rules they agree to keep while they’re behind the wheel. Some things you can put in this contract include:
- Whether or not they can have other kids in the car
- Their curfew on weekdays and weekends
- Places they can or cannot go
Be sure that this is a list of conditions you and your teen agree on, and not just something you draw up then say they have to sign. The more involved they get in the process of drawing up this contract, the more invested they’ll be in sticking to it.
Once you both agree to the rules, have everyone sign and date it, then give your teen a copy.
Practices Makes Better
No one is ever going to be a perfect driver, but the more your teen practices—and the more they practice under a variety of conditions—the better off they’ll be to respond to real-life situations.
Your teen likely will have to log a certain number of hours behind the wheel in order to pass driver’s ed, but don’t stop there. Use every opportunity you can to get your teen some practice, whether it’s just for a quick trip to school or having them drive one of the legs of a road trip.
Whenever possible, help them get practice in a variety of weather and driving conditions so they can more safely learn what to expect, including the dark, fog, rain, snow, highway driving, and heavy traffic. You’ll be able to instruct them how to respond to issues and they’ll feel more confident tackling these tricky driving situations as a result.
Find the Right Fit
Whether your teen is getting their own car or driving one of the family vehicles, chances are you’ll have a very different idea of what’s “appropriate” for them to drive.
While your teen may dream of a “cool” sports car, you’re likely far more concerned about the airbags and crash rating. Rather than spending time battling it out with your teen, sit down and discuss the things that are absolute must-haves in whatever vehicle they get. Airbags, anti-lock brakes, and all-wheel drive may top your list.
If possible (and in your budget), work with your new driver to find a compromise car that pairs their need for coolness with your desire to keep them safe (and keep costs down). As you’re doing this, teach them about all the responsibilities and costs that come with driving, such as insurance, maintenance, and gas costs. Seeing all that down on paper may tip the scales in the favor of the economy car you’re wanting when compared with how expensive a sports car can be!
Set Electronics Rules
That ever-present phone in your teen’s hand becomes far more dangerous—and distracting—once they’re behind the wheel of a car.
Although it’s important that your teen have access to a phone while they’re out and about, sending texts or checking their Instagram feed when they should be driving is a recipe for disaster. As part of your contract for your teen driver, be sure to include rules on phone use.
This could mean that your teen agrees to keep their phone closed into the center console while driving, but that it’s always on and in the car with them. Include some of the statistics on phone use while driving in your conversation to really drive home the importance of paying attention to the road and not their phone while driving.
Make Sure They’re Ready
Many teens envision rolling up to the DMV right on their 16th birthday and walking out with a shiny new license in their hand. The reality, though, is that your teen may not be ready for the responsibility of driving as soon as they’re eligible.
As their parent, it’s important that you evaluate whether or not your child is ready to get their license on their birthday. And if they aren’t, take extra time to practice and ensure their maturity level is up to the responsibility.
While your teen may be upset at first, their frustration will go away over time, and it will make finally getting their license all the sweeter. Plus, it will be well worth it for your stress levels knowing you gave them the extra time they needed to prepare.
Auto Insurance in MD, VA, PA, & WV
At Antietam Insurance, we know how exciting and stressful it can be when teens start driving. Our team of insurance professionals can help you ensure that you’re covered in the event of an accident, whether that means adding your teen to your existing auto insurance policy or getting them their own. Call today for a quote!