When you're a parent, you tend to worry about anything and everything when it comes to your kids. It's hard enough watching Billy go to Kindergarten the first day or deciding if young Maggie is ready to date, but watching your teenager get behind the wheel and driving away has to be one of the most stressful moments of parenting. Here are some tips that will help both you and your teenager when he or she is ready to drive.
1. Come up with a contract
When teens begin to drive, all they see is the freedom and the fun, while all you see is the danger. Before your teen starts driving, come up with a plan. Talk to her about obeying traffic laws and being responsible about vehicle maintenance. Create a contract that both of you sign, so that if your teen gets a ticket or is caught texting while driving, the punishment is very clear ... and non-negotiable.
2. Set limits
We were all teenagers once and we all remember how it was when we got that first taste of freedom and wanted more. If you set limits before your teen starts driving, he is more likely to respect them. When you create your contract, you should think about restricting cell phone use, the number of passengers in the car, late-night driving, and use of alcohol. Make sure he knows he is to always wear his seat belt.
3. Check out new technologies
Would it make you feel better if you could set speed limits, track the whereabouts of your teen, and know how fast she is going, all from the comfort of your home? New GPS tracking navigation systems, like TeenTrak, provide just that. You can see where your teen is parked and get alerts when she goes past certain pre-set boundaries. All of this is easy to use and operate from your home computer. Technologies like these can also help lower insurance costs for your teen.
4. Be involved
How is your teen supposed to learn good driving habits and practices if you aren't around to teach him? Once he has his learner's permit, take him out driving and give him pointers. Drive on different terrains, during various weather conditions, and different times of day. See if there is a Safe Teen Driving Program in your area, which offers meetings and support for parents of teen drivers. Let your teen know that you are concerned about accidents and the whole driving experience, but that you trust him behind the wheel.
You can't do everything for your child, but you can certainly set him on the right path toward becoming a safe and responsible driver.