Is it time for your teen to start driving? This is a time that’s both exciting and nerve-wracking for all involved. On the one hand, it’s certainly a major milestone. On the other, you’re well aware of the dangers out there and you want your child to be as prepared as possible.
As a parent, you likely feel the responsibility of the influence you have on your teen driver. There are a number of things you can do to help them successfully navigate this time, including practicing driving, enrolling them in driving school, modeling safe and responsible driving behaviors, and having regular conversations about driving safety.
There’s also something else that you might want to consider as your teen gets closer to earning his or her driver license: a parent-teen driving contract. Here, we’ll look at exactly what that is and what the benefits of this agreement could be for you and your child.
What is a parent-teen driving contract?
A parent-teen driving contract (also known as a parent-teen driving agreement) is one way that you and your young driver can get on the same page about family rules of the road, expectations and limits.
It’s a written, mutually agreed-upon document that you both sign, and it outlines promises that a teen driver must agree and adhere to, restrictions put in place by parents, and penalties or consequences for violating the agreement.
Mutually beneficial: For teens and parents
The primary benefit is that your child will have very clear expectations in writing about what they should and should not do behind the wheel. Talking is important, but putting things to paper raises the level of commitment and reinforces the immense responsibility and potential hazards that come along with the driving privilege.
Another benefit is that a parent-teen driving contract starts with laws and rules, but doesn’t stop there. It also allows you to determine and document additional rules and limits that you set as parents. You know your child better than anyone, and they may need some restrictions above and beyond what the law states while they continue to gain driving experience.
It also gives kids the ability to decide how they will react in advance of a potentially risky driving situation. Research has found that if teens make a decision ahead of a potential situation, it helps them stick to that decision. Some examples could be deciding not to text and drive, to never allow drugs or alcohol in the vehicle, or to require that every passenger wear a seat belt.
Parents should make promises, too
As a parent, you also have commitments you should consider making as part of these agreements. For example, you could commit to provide and maintain a safe vehicle for them, to patiently and calmly support them in learning how to drive, and to lead by example.
Getting started with an agreement
There are several good templates or ideas online for putting together an agreement for you and your new driver. We recommend the Centers for Disease Control and AAA.
Whatever shape your agreement takes, it’s a good idea to put it somewhere visible, such as on the fridge, and to review it regularly as a family.
Teaching your teen everything they need to know to stay safe and defensive behind the wheel can be overwhelming. Stop and Go Driving School is here to help! Learn more about our driver’s education and Alive@25® programs, and contact us to get started today.