There’s nothing more heartwarming than watching your child grow from a tiny baby into a functioning adult. At first, they need help with life’s simplest tasks, but soon enough, they’re making their own decisions and vying for their independence.
While watching your child take control of their own life is truly an inspiration, watching them take control of a steering wheel is another story—especially if you’re the one teaching them the rules of the road. You’re left panicking over near-accidents, fretting over their lack of driving instincts, and holding your stomach as they jerk the car all over the road and lurch on the brakes.
It’s not easy to teach your teen actual driving skills—it’s something they must practice and absorb on their own. But when it comes to driving habits, philosophies and responsibilities, you can make a huge difference in your child’s driving safety and success.
In this blog, we’re going to give you a few pieces of advice that will keep your teen safe on the road, teach them good driving habits, and ensure they’re making the right decisions as they become a full-fledged driver.
Lead by example.
This is the rule that dictates all other rules—in the teen driving world and the parenting world in general. If you’re going to preach good driving habits, you better walk the walk as much as you talk the talk. That means no texting and driving, no running red-ish lights, no California-rolling through stop signs, and no speeding. If you want your teen to take your driving instructions and lectures seriously, you’re going to have to show them how it’s done and lead by example.
Gauge your teen’s maturity level.
As a parent, you have the final word when it comes to your teen’s ability to drive. If they’re mature enough to handle the responsibility of their own vehicle and the risk that comes with hitting the road, that’s great—but if you don’t believe they have the maturity to handle a vehicle safely and responsibly, or you don’t believe they’ve earned the right because of a lack of maturity in other aspects of life like school work and chores, then you have every right to withhold their driving privileges until they get their act together and prove they’re ready to handle a car.
This isn’t just a strong parental philosophy—it can be used as a motivational tool as well. Maybe your teen would work harder to improve their C- in algebra class if they knew the reward for doing so would be the freedom and excitement of driving their own car. While chiding your child can be a useful tool in some cases, motivating them with positive reinforcement and rewards for hard work can help them reach a greater level of grit and maturity.
Teach them driving is a privilege, not a right.
As the parent of a teenage driver, you are in charge of your teen’s vehicle and their ability to drive, no matter how much they believe otherwise. With good driving habits, some maturity, and some responsibility, your teen can have the driving freedom they desire within your parental guidelines—but if they ignore your rules and drive irresponsibly, the privilege of driving could (and should) be taken away. Driving is a privilege, not a right—that goes for teens and adults. If you break the rules of the road, drive under the influence, or cause harm to others, your right to drive could be taken away, whether it’s by a parent or by the justice system. It’s better that your teen learns that driving is a privilege from your parental discipline, rather than learning the hard way by facing real-world consequences.
Limit them driving other teens around.
There are certain moments where your teen driving another teen around is necessary, like when your son needs to take his date to the prom. But when it comes to unsupervised teens driving around in the car that you paid for and insured, there’s more that can go wrong than right—and there are laws to be broken, too. Check with your state DMV website to learn about new driver rules, passenger limits, and curfews for drivers under the age of 18.
Even if your teen is technical abiding by state and local laws, your view on this matter should depend on how well you know your teen and your teen’s friends, and how you and your teen communicate when it comes to their budding social life. If your teen is transparent about where they plan to drive, who will be in the car, and when they will be home, it might be the right choice to give them the opportunity to prove their responsibility and their maturity. But if your teen appears to be dodging the truth about their intentions or their whereabouts, or you just don’t trust the teens they’re hanging out with, then you might want to consider a parental ruling of “no other teens in the car.”
While not all teens are created equal, teens can be naive, easily peer pressured, and irresponsible by nature. If you think your teen and their friends are not going to make positive and safe decisions in a moving vehicle, you have every right to confiscate the keys.
Teach them about adult responsibilities.
Without gas, your car is going nowhere. So why not teach your teen this hard truth by making them pay for their own gas? With every car comes a certain amount of responsibility—you must keep the gas tank full, perform oil changes, check tire pressure and tread condition regularly, and handle problems in a timely manner. Teaching your teen the basics of car care and maintenance right when they start driving is a great way to teach them responsibility and self-sufficiency, and help them survive car snafoos during their adult life. Even if they refuse to take out the garbage or do their own laundry, your teen will have the tools and the knowledge to keep their car in great shape for years to come.
Teach them the importance of car insurance.
Car insurance isn’t just required by law in the large majority of states—it’s something that protects the vehicles of your teen and and other drivers on the road. Before your teen hits the road on their own, they should understand how car insurance works, what their policy covers, and what to do in the event of a collision or accident on the road.
That’s where Gutierrez Family Agency can help. As Munster’s car insurance hub, Gutierrez Family Agency can help you find the right car insurance policy for the whole family, and ensure that your teen is protected as they venture out onto the mean streets for the first time. Plus, we can help your teen understand how their policy works—because sometimes, teens learn better from people other than their parents. Don’t wait—get started with Gutierrez Family Agency today!