It’s finally happened. Your teenager got their driver’s license, and they’re ready to roll. They’ve been waiting for this moment for years, and they’re ready to ditch you and cruise off into the world. They’re excited. You’re worried. It’s hard to think about your little one getting behind the wheel of a car, especially without you riding shotgun to shout “Stop!” and “Slow down!” at periodic intervals.
Whether your teen has their license or is about to get it, it’s your job to protect them and keep them safe. That’s what you’ve been doing since they were a baby, right? Maybe they don’t fit neatly in your arms like they used to, but they’re still your little one, and your priority is still their wellbeing.
There are a few things that you can do as their parent to keep your teen safe when they hit the road (other than making sure your teen is properly insured.) We’ll give you seven tips.
1. Lay down the law.
In order to keep your teen safe, you might have to get serious and drop a word that might make your teen groan, roll their eyes, and sass you. That’s right – we’re talking rules. Oh, yeah. You’re still the parent. You get to do that…especially when there’s a car involved. Some areas for ground rules might include:
- Driving at night. States usually have a curfew for young, newly licensed drivers, but you need to make sure to enforce it. The driving curfew’s there for a reason.
- Restricting the number of passengers they can have in the car. Passengers are distracting! They’re loud and want to talk to the driver, which can be trouble. Georgia’s graduated licensing system places restrictions on the number of passengers a newly licensed driver can have, so make sure your teen knows and respects these rules.
- Forbidding cell phone use. Your teen needs to know your position on cell phones while driving – namely, not to use them, ever. You also need to set a good example by not using your phone while you’re driving!
- Setting a radius. You might want to have some guidelines for where your teen is allowed to drive themselves. Of course, sometimes they might have to leave the designated area, so remember that communication is key. Have your teen tell you where they’re going and when they expect to be back. You can even ask that they text you when they’ve arrived safely and before they depart for home.
You might even consider tagging along for a drive every once in a while, just to check in and see how the driving’s going.
2. Have your teen get their permit early.
It’s important that your teen has as much time to practice as possible, which means that you can encourage them to get their permit when they become eligible. It’s also a good idea to make them keep their permit for a full year before they get their license, even if your state only says that they need to have it for six months. Practice makes perfect.
3. Have your teen driver practice in different driving conditions.
Rain, heavy traffic, and darkness are all stressful driving conditions, even for adults. Make sure that your teen driver has practiced in all of these different circumstances so that they’re prepared when they hit the road on their own.
Also, make sure that they’re okay with postponing trips if there’s bad weather. Rain makes for slick roads, which are scary. If there’s a bad rainstorm, encourage them to stay at a safe place and wait to drive to their destination.
4. Be on seatbelt patrol.
Make sure your teen wears their seatbelt. Seatbelts are for the cool kids, and this is a habit that your teen driver needs to get into. Seatbelts are there to protect them in the event of an accident. Your teen needs to wear theirs whenever they drive, and they also need to know that it’s their responsibility to check that their passengers are also buckled up. It only takes a second to click that buckle, but it’s a second that could save their life.
5. Have them drive the “family car.”
Instead of presenting them with “their” car, let your teen driver borrow the family car. This will make them less inclined to act recklessly. They’ll treat driving more responsibly if they’re in the family car. Make sure that you have them drive a safe, reliable car. They might complain that the minivan isn’t cool, but hey – they’ll be safe in it. It’s also important to make sure that the car is in good repair.
6. Make sure they get sleep.
Being well-rested will make your teen a better driver. Fatigue and exhaustion are dangerous when it comes to driving, so if your teen stays up late to study for a big test or work on a project, offer to give them a ride to school the next day. Good sleep habits will help them develop good driving habits.
7. Set a good example.
As a parent, you’re a role model, no matter how much your teen might not want to admit it. They’ve grown up driving around with you, and when they started learning to drive you’d better believe they started watching you more closely. Practice what you preach and be on your best driving behavior. No phone. No food. No fiddling with the radio station. No drinking. Wear your seatbelt always. Respect speed limits and road laws. Be patient and don’t get angry on the road. Use your turn signals. Take steps to prevent a car break-in and explain to your teen what to do if the car does get broken into. In short, just go by the book when you drive.
Don’t underestimate what teenagers observe and what sticks with them, even though they might not seem to notice much other than what music they’re listening to on their headphones while you drive!
Yes, it might seem like a lot of rules, and yes, it might make your teen driver mad. There’s a high possibility that they’ll complain to their friends about how, like, their parents are the worst for not letting them drive at night. But the point is to keep them safe. They need to understand the seriousness of the responsibility of driving. The car is a privilege, not a right. Make sure that they know why all these rules are in place and why you’re exercising your parental authority – to keep them safe because you love them.
If you need to get car insurance for your teen driver, we can help! Give us a call or fill out our quote form today and we’ll help you get the best coverage at the best possible rate.