The day is here. Your teenager looks at you with uncontrollable excitement as they make the announcement they passed their road test. Suddenly, you feel a pit in your stomach and your hands begin to sweat. While you muster up a bright smile, inside you’re a mess. It’s a combination of emotions. You are happy and stressed at the same time. Your little baby is now ready to drive on their own. Probably the hardest part is facing the reality they are now an adult and that they will soon be leaving home. Before handing over the keys, it’s important to make sure they are safe behind the wheel.
Teenage Driving: The Talk
Every parent needs to have a talk with their child prior to that child’s first drive alone. Make sure that you explain that driving is a privilege and conditioned on good behavior, grades, and your discretion. Secondly, make sure that they understand the rules, that their focus is supposed to be on the road. There is no cell phone use, loud music, or friends allowed inside the car. They’re also not allowed to drive over the speed limit or to drink or use drugs.
Update Your Insurance
Adding a young driver to your insurance policy is easy. However, you may be surprised at the huge cost. It doesn’t matter whether your teen needs car, truck, or motorcycle insurance. The rates will be high due to their lack of experience. One way to save a few bucks is to create a separate policy with an older vehicle and place your newer cars on a policy for you and your spouse alone.
Servicing the Vehicle
Before putting a new driver behind the wheel, it’s essential that you have the vehicle serviced to make sure the brakes are working properly, the wipers are sufficient, and that the tires have tread and appropriate air levels. New drivers are unlikely to be able to recognize if something is wrong.
There may come a time when the car breaks down or your teen gets a flat tire. Before they experience this on their own, it’s wise to address these possible scenarios ahead of time to review with your child their necessary reactions. First, make sure they know that the car must be completely off the road for their safety and the safety of other drivers traveling on the same road. Second, if a tire needs changing, make sure they know how to do that on their own.
While your teen may be very anxious to put the keys in the ignition and show off their ability to drive independently to their friends, your teen is new to driving and has very few miles under their belt. Initially, it’s a smart move to limit their travel to school and work or the homes of local friends who live nearby.
Your biggest fear is that your teen will get into an accident. Unfortunately, many teens do get into accidents within their first year of driving. They simply don’t have enough experience with driving in traffic, so their judgment on braking and sudden moves from other drivers is not fully developed. If your child is in an accident (hopefully it’s minor), you should advise them to contact the authorities and to remain inside the vehicle until those authorities arrive. After that call, they should also contact you to let you know what’s happened and that they are alright.
Set a Good Example
For the most part, most teens look up to their parents (even if they don’t want to admit it). Set a good example every time you get behind the wheel. Now that they drive, the habits you display will be passed on to your teen. Handing over the keys to a newly licensed teen is never easy. However, if you have the talk, make sure the vehicles are safe and update your insurance, you’ll have peace of mind.