Guest Blogger #748, Entry #1749, October 23, 2012
Teens from all walks of life are excited about growing up, gaining independence, and learning to drive. The excitement of driving comes from the very independence that it provides to teens; they are no longer limited by how far they can walk, ride their bikes, or set out on buses. With a car at one’s disposal it becomes possible to simply get behind the wheel and go at any time. This is one of the things we love so much about driving, the feeling of empowerment that has inspired everything from blockbuster movies to classic novels. However, great responsibilities come with this freedom, and it is important to establish rules for your teenage drivers.
The first and greatest concern for parents when their teenage children start driving is safety, and this is of course a valid concern. To be a safe and responsible driver requires maturity and experience, things that many teens only learn after spending a good deal of time behind the wheel. Be sure to have a frank discussion with your teens about driving safety. Emphasize the importance of wearing seat belts and obeying speed limits. They should never, under any circumstances, talk or text on their phones while driving. Cell phones prevent a dangerous distraction for drivers, so banning the use of them while behind the wheel should be one of your ground rules.
Setting rules and guidelines:
Consider setting a curfew for your teens when they take out the car. Whether they’re driving your car or you’ve provided them with their own, you don’t want them staying out too late in their early days of driving. If they’re staying out late, they’re getting tired, and driving without full alertness can be very dangerous. Also, your teens may be tempted to go to parties when they start driving, which often means staying out late and drinking. Driving under the influence is incredibly reckless and dangerous; you want to keep your teens away from this temptation and make them understand the severity and danger involved.
Driving isn’t all fun and games; you know this very well and your teens should understand it just the same. In addition to the responsibilities of safety and abiding the law, driving is a financial responsibility. Establish ground rules about paying for gas if you’re lending them your own car. Your teenage drivers should never return the car without gas in the tank. It is inconsiderate and fosters irresponsibility. Look up car insurance quotes as well when your teens start driving, and consider having them pitch in on the expense of insurance. They may groan about it, but it will make them better, more responsible drivers.
Starting to drive is a big step in life. It can be either a step towards maturity or a step towards recklessness depending on how you handle things in the early days. Establish rules like these for your teen driver and adhere to the rules at all times. Remember that your teens are subject to the laws of mom and dad as much as they are subject to the laws of the government.
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