You have a new teen driver who is excited to use the family car to drive to practice.
A couple friends on the team want to be picked up.
You’ve heard about teenage driving statistics.
You’ve seen coverage of teenage driving accidents on the news.
You’re concerned about teenage peer pressure while driving.
Would a Teen Driving Contract Agreement help your child avoid becoming one of those teenage driving statistics?
For most teens, driving is a symbol of their independence and a rite of passage to adulthood. But driving is not a right; it is a privilege that brings responsibility. Not every teen is ready to drive and few are experienced enough to be responsible for passengers.
Teenage Driving Statistics:
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in America.” 35% of all teen deaths are caused by traffic crashes and there are many more who suffer injuries due to teenage driving accidents that require emergency room visits. The most common behaviors that contribute to teen-related crashes are:
- Inexperience and immaturity combined with speed
- Drinking and driving
- Not wearing seat belts
- Distracted driving (cell phone use, loud music, other teen passengers, etc.)
- Drowsy driving
- Nighttime driving, and
- Other drug use
Teaching children how to avoid teenage peer pressure and teen drinking will help reduce the risk of teen driving accidents.
Teen Driving Contract Agreement:
The above teenage driving statistics reveal there are serious safety risks and you do need to be a concerned parent and sit down with your child to set rules and guidelines when it comes to teenage driving. Prior to your teen getting a license, consider having them read up on safety tips they need to consider before getting their license. This may give you some ideas for rules to include in a Teen Driving Contract Agreement.
When Should I Get A Teenage Driving Contract Agreement?
Having the agreement in place prior to a teen learning how to drive is best. When teens are ready for drivers’ education, openly discuss your mutual concerns about young drivers’ safety. Express trust in your teen and be clear that your concerns have more to do with other people’s driving and the teen’s inexperience in reacting quickly. Negotiate an agreement for earning and keeping the privilege of driving.
If you do not have one and you already have a teen driving, be sure to sit down and get an agreement before your child drives again. I strongly suggest having these Teen Driving Contract agreements written out and signed by teen drivers.
What Should Be Included In A Teenage Driving Contract Agreement?
If you review some of the tips provided by a Teen Driver Safety Guide first, you will want to include some of the following in your Teen Driving Contract agreements.
- Have teens pay for gas and at least part of the insurance payment and the car’s cost or monthly payments. They will need to get a job and budget their money. Don’t feel guilty asking this. If teens want adult privileges, they need to manage them.
- If they damage the car, they pay the deductible. If the damage is their fault, they give up driving until they pay for all damages.
- If they get a driving-related ticket, they pay the ticket and give up driving one week for every $10 they were fined.
- Limit driving to legal curfew hours. They need to be home by 11 p.m. on weekdays and midnight on the weekends.
- They need to have a specific destination they are driving to, instead of just “cruising.”
- They can only drive their car or another family car with permission. They are never to drive someone else’s car, even if the owner gives them permission, unless you approve.
- They must drive by themselves the first year. The second year, they can have one passenger. No carpooling until they are eighteen-years-old and all passengers must wear seat belts.
- A child must have parental permission to ride with a teen driver, whom the parent knows and trusts. Your teen must be the only passenger until they are eighteen. If another parent or teen tells your child it’s okay to ride with a teen driver, your child must still get your permission.
Sorry, but no teen should get a new car on a silver platter, expense-free. Consider your options:
- Most people take more care with things they’ve earned than with gifts.
- Drivers (not just teen drivers) are more likely to show off in a new or high performance car.
- Older cars may need more repairs, but teens can learn about car maintenance and self-repairs easier on an older car.
- Insurance is higher for teen drivers and new cars. You can control one factor.
- Newer cars have good safety features, but crumble easier and are costly to repair. There’s protection in a steel tank.
- Tanks are usually gas-guzzlers, so teens think twice before taking joy rides — especially if they buy the gas.
I guarantee teens won’t like these rules. Since the consequences of them not following these guidelines could be life or death, refuse to argue and stand firm on these safety issues. Tell your child you know they are safe drivers, but there are crazy drivers out there. Emphasize you have a teen driving contract because you love them and want them to avoid problems. If they are safe, responsible drivers, they will see the value of these rules.
Above all else, you want to teach your children, from an early age, to think through their decisions and consider all possible outcomes before acting. Having an agreement in place will help avoid some teen driving accidents.
I can’t guarantee that if parents have teen driving contract agreements, their children won’t be involved in a tragic accident. That’s where prayer comes in. Sometimes that’s all we can do to protect our children when they are away from home.
For more insights, information and practical tools and tips about helping children develop independence and responsibility in all areas of their life; get the complimentary 7 Keys to Parenting Success ebook.
Jody Johnston Pawel, LSW, CFLE is President of Parent’s Toolshop® Consulting, where she oversees an international network of Toolshop® trainers. For 30+ years, Jody has trained tens thousands of parents and family professionals worldwide through her dynamic workshops and hundreds of interviews with the media worldwide, including Parents and Working Mother magazines. She is the author of the award-winning book The Parent’s Toolshop®, and countless multimedia resources that support and educate parents from diverse backgrounds, plus other adults who live or work with children. You can find them at her award-winning website, www.ParentsToolshop.com.
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