How To Make Rules for a Teen Driver

Parents naturally become somewhat anxious when their teenager starts to drive. The newfound independence that comes with driving can overwhelm a teen's common sense, so it is important that you, as a family, set some rules and guidelines. Here are some tips on how to make rules for a teen driver:

  1. Start off slow. When your teen first starts to drive, don't give her free reign of the car keys. Have your teen start off slow, with short local trips. Don't give your newly licensed teen the option of taking the car for a whirlwind weekend -- there will be plenty of time for that later.
  2. Curfew rules. Most states have young driver curfews. If you wish, your own family curfew can be even earlier -- and it probably should be, especially with a beginning driver. If your state has no curfew law, you certainly ought to establish one for your children. You and your teen should come up with a curfew hour that both find reasonable.

  3. Passenger rules. When your teen wants to use the car, ask him where he's going and if he'll have any passengers. It is important, especially with new drivers, to put a limit on the number of passengers. The limit should be one or two at first -- too many passengers in the car can cause distractions for your teen driver, putting all of them in greater danger.

  4. Cell phone use. You should forbid all cell phone use while your teen is driving. Talking on a cell phone while driving is dangerous for even the most experienced drivers. A teen driver must devote her complete concentration to the road. You may even want to tell your teen to mute the cell phone ringer so she is not tempted to answer the phone while driving.

  5. Radios and headphones. Teenagers like to blare the music in the car. Explain to your teen the dangers of playing the music too loud while driving. When music in the car is playing too loud, your teen may not be able to hear a car horn or ambulance siren. Also, many MP3 players need to be used with headphones, so tell your teen that driving while wearing headphones is unacceptable as well as illegal. If you find that your teen is pulling into your driveway with the music blaring or with headphones on, suspend his driving privileges for a while.

  6. School rules. Many teens like to drive to school. Cars are status symbols and give teens the freedom of not having to ride the bus. Driving to school can also allow a teen to go where she is not supposed to be going. If you suspect your teen is cutting school because she has a car, call the school. You should always know where your teen is going when she uses the car.

  7. Drinking and driving. It is important that you convey the grave dangers of drinking and driving. Besides being illegal, it is the cause of thousands of teenage car accidents every year. Teenagers tend to downplay the dangers of drinking and driving. Tell your teen that he must call you if he is unable to drive home. You can save the punishments for later -- the important thing is to ensure that your teen does not get behind the wheel if he is under the influence of alcohol. Keeping the car parked somewhere is a better option than having your teen drive after drinking.

  8. Accidents and car troubles. Have a plan in place in case your teen gets into a car accident or experiences car troubles. Make sure your teen knows where the car insurance and registration information is located, as well as any motor club information. Also, make sure that the teen calls you right away if there is an accident -- before she exchanges information with the other driver.

  9. Tickets. If your teen gets a speeding or parking ticket, hold him responsible for going to court and/or paying the fees. Don't bail your teen out -- he will never learn driver safety if you keep helping out by paying ticket fines. Also, have a plan in place for a teen driver who habitually gets tickets. Besides the fact that accumulating ticket points can result in the loss of the driver's license, good drivers rarely get tickets. Look at habitual tickets as a warning sign that your teen may not be ready for the responsibility of driving.

  10. Remember, driving is a privilege. Your teen may appreciate that fact more if she is responsible for paying for car insurance and gas. By paying for these items for your teen, you are, in essence, giving your child a free ride.


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