If your child is at the age where they’re beginning to think getting their driver’s license, you may be wondering, “Are they actually ready to drive?”
And with all the dangers that driving poses to teenagers, that’s a really good question to ask.
In this article, we’ll go over:
- Why it’s a good idea to set standards your child must meet before applying for their driver’s license.
- Some suggested driving rules for your teenage driver that will give you peace of mind.
- What factors to keep in mind when evaluating your teen’s readiness for the road.
- Why it’s important to have an ongoing discussion about road safety with your teen.
Continue reading to learn more about deciding if your teen is ready to take on the responsibility a driver’s license brings.
Ready for your teen to start driving?
If you want more tips for actually teaching your teen to drive—like best practices when you’re both in the car for supervised driving at home—head over to our Driver’s Ed parents’ guide.
As the parent of a new driver, you want to keep your child safe but also don’t want to be a stick in the mud. By setting and enforcing an agreed-upon set of standards before your teen hits the road, you can find a balance between giving your child the freedom they need and exercising the right amount of caution.
These standards may include:
- Showing good judgment.
Safe driving requires a lot more than focus, knowledge of traffic laws, and quick reaction times: it takes good judgment, too. How you measure good judgment is ultimately up to you, but places to start might include performance in school and keeping up with household chores.
- Agreement to practice.
You may set up a standard requiring your child to study and/or practice driving at least 5 hours a week before they can take the DMV’s written and/or road test. Again, the specifics are up to you, but a good place to start is our guide on teaching your teen road safety.
- Figuring out if they willing to pitch in.
You can ask your teen to help pay for gas or auto insurance for the car they’ll be using the most. Not only will this help out with your car-related expenses, but it will also instill a sense of financial responsibility in your new teen driver.
Discuss the above standards with your teen driver and make changes or additions where necessary.
In-Car Rules for Teenage Drivers
Teen drivers are much more likely to act responsibly if rules are in place.
Therefore, it’s important to think about and communicate which rules you want to put in place for your teen driver. Rules can range depending on the circumstances, but some may include:
- No friends in the car.
First, check your local driving regulations, as many of them will already restrict passengers for new drivers. However, you may want to add extra restrictions once your teen has surpassed the restriction period. For example, consider limiting the number of passengers your teen can have in the car, or restrict driving at night with others in the vehicle.
- No driving in inclement weather.
Many accidents occur when the weather takes a turn for the worse. Because of this, it may be smart to limit your teen’s driving when there is rain, snow, or strong winds in the weather report.
In addition to setting the rules and standards we’ve outlined so far, you’ll want to evaluate your child from a holistic point of view. We’ll go over some questions to ask yourself about your teen next.
Evaluate Your Teen
Here are some questions you should ask yourself about your child when deciding if they’re ready to take on the responsibility of driving:
- Are they mature enough?
- Can they take constructive feedback?
- Can they concentrate and remain alert?
- Are they motivated to learn the information and skills required to be a good driver?
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you may want to reconsider whether your teen is ready to start the driver’s license process. Discuss with your child where there may be room for improvement before they hit the road.
Discussing Road Safety
For you and your teen driver’s sake, be sure to do some research into your state’s driving rules and regulations. There may be laws that are different from when you first started driving, and those changes are worth discussing with your child.
In addition, remember that driver’s safety isn’t a one-time conversation. It’s important to continue to talk with your teen about road safety and why it’s important. Don’t be afraid to talk to your teen about statistics, including the leading cause of death for Americans ages 5 to 24 is car accidents.
The more you treat your teen driver as a mature and responsible adult, the more they’ll take on that role. As long as you’re honest and open with your child about your expectations, you’ll know when your teen is truly ready to drive.