It happens to the best of us. One day we’re young. The next day we are somehow old enough to have a child with a driver’s license. It’s one of the mysteries of the universe, don’t waste your time worrying about how this happened. Instead, focus on what you can do to give the world the safest teen driver you can. The world will thank you.
1. Leave Him Alone!
If your child is old enough for a license, he is old enough to be out from under your constant supervision. Do not call or text him every five minutes to make sure he’s okay. One, you don’t want him to be on his phone if he’s driving. Two, your constant contact implies you do not trust your child.
2. Pay Attention To Sleeping Habits
Teens are notorious for being always ready for a nap. Drowsy driving is a major factor in many teen driver accidents. Make sure your child has had enough sleep before he gets behind the wheel.
3. Oooo Look At The Shiny Thing Over There
Go ahead and nag. Remind your teen constantly of how quickly an accident can happen if they lose their focus for even a few seconds. Remind him how every teen involved in an accident thought they were the exception to the rule. Let your child know that, though he is special, he does not have super powers that give him better concentration or reflexes than anyone else. No phones. No texting. Ever. Be prepared to back your rules up with swift removal of driving privileges should your child disobey.
4. Help Your Teen Discover The Joys Of Being Alone
A car full of teenagers is a recipe for disaster. According to AAA, the addition of another teenager in the car increases the risk of an accident by 44%. Add a third teen and the risk doubles. Limit the number of passengers allowed in the car for the first year your child is driving. Have him drive alone, when possible, for the first six months.
5. Go Ahead And State The Obvious
Make sure your teen understands that drinking and driving is never an option. Ever. Encourage them to watch this episode of Mythbusters to see the proof of the dangers of using a phone and the dangers of drinking and driving.
6. Review The Laws Of Physics – Especially The First One
An object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless it is acted upon by an unbalanced force. Meaning? A kid in a moving car will keep moving at the same speed and in the same direction the car was moving in the event of an accident. Moral of the story? Wear your seat belt.
7. Follow The Light
More teens have accidents between 9 pm and 12 am than at any other time. For the first year, restrict night time driving. Once your independent driver has more real-world, daytime driving experience you can ease the restrictions.
8. Get Him Invested
Teens who pay for all or a portion of their car insurance are the teens mostly likely to avoid reckless driving. At the very least, have your teen call a few insurance companies to get the rates if he were to buy his own insurance. All teens, but most especially boys, will be astounded at the prices. Be sure to have them ask what the rates go up to with the first speeding violation. Money talks.
9. Face Reality And Be Prepared
Most teenagers will be involved in some kind of accident before they are 20. Fortunately, most of those accidents are not serious. Prepare your teen for an accident before it happens. When they are learning to drive, be sure they get plenty of experience driving in difficult conditions – snow, highways, heavy traffic – while you are there to give them tips. Once they are on their own, make sure they know what to do if they are involved in an accident.
10. Put It In Writing
Many parents create a contract which both they and their teen driver sign when the teen first gets a license. There are many examples available online. A contract should make your rules clear as well as the consequences for breaking those rules.