Getting a license is something that teens look forward to with the bright-eyed anticipation that only the young can muster, and parents approach with equal and opposite dread. Not only do many parents fear to enter a vehicle that is manned by a child, but they also worry about what will happen when they are replaced by friends (and the peer pressure that comes with them). You can teach your teenager to drive, but as a parent, you will still worry. That’s natural.
The fact that teens are often irresponsible and prone to poor judgment is no shocking revelation; this is the reason why insuring them on a vehicle is more expensive. They have more accidents than any other group on the road, they tend to think they are invincible, and they are all too susceptible to the pressures that other teens in the vehicle can exert. So if you want your teen to be safe when he gets behind the wheel, you’re going to have to do your best to prepare him for what awaits on the road.
Preparing Your Teen for the Road
The first thing you need to do is talk to your teen about the responsibilities and dangers of driving. Consider the message you’re sending if you buy your child a brand-new car, pay for insurance and maintenance, and take on all of the financial responsibility yourself. Do you think that your teen will understand the gravity of the choices he makes while operating the vehicle? Will he think about the consequences before it’s too late? Probably not. You can, however, give your teen some inkling of the cost of owning a vehicle by making him pay for the privilege. Don’t allow him to drive until he has a job to pay for at least a portion of the price for a used vehicle (he’s bound to have an accident, so it’s probably best to avoid a new one) as well as related expenses (registration, insurance, and so on). Once your teen understands the responsibilities involved in driving, you’ll have a better chance of getting through to him about the risks and dangers involved.
Next, you need to lay down some ground rules – and stick to them. This includes stipulations related to your teen’s driving habits that are engineered to keep him safe. You should set limitations on distances, speeds, areas, and times when driving can occur, and you may choose to make exclusions like highway driving and having friends in the car, at least in the beginning. And if your teen fails to follow these rules, take away his driving privileges. Remind him that breaking the rules of the road will result in legal penalties and fines, and your conditions are no different.
Talk to your teenager about vehicle maintenance and teach them to change a tire and other basic car care practices to keep their car running.
Finally, you should make yourself available. If practice makes perfect, then you have every incentive to ensure that your teen gets plenty. Unless you want to wind up selling scrap metal from crushed fenders and searching for Volvo engines for sale, it behooves you to take the steps necessary to see that your teen is well prepared for the road before he ever goes out on his own. Even if you’re worried about a crash (especially if you’re worried about a crash), you need to make the time to practice with your teen until you deem him ready to drive.