My favorite parts about driving my boys Ben and Gabe around was listening to their chatter with friends, having meaningful conversations and time to discuss difficult topics without making eye contact or having them walk away, and most of all listening to music and singing along.
Whether it was a road trip or driving them around town to their activities, I truly enjoyed that time together. Now don’t get me wrong, when the time came for them to learn to drive I was excited about the new “freedom” I would have from getting them from here to there.
Let’s face it – watching your child drive away for the first time or the many times after that can be very stressful. I can still picture myself in the driveway waving goodbye and saying a prayer to keep them safe.
Teens look at this rite of passage as maturity and parents look at this as a time of letting go. We worry about their safety and they worry about our criticism.
According to the CDC, about 3,000 teens lose their lives every year in car crashes. That’s 8 teens a day too many. The main cause? Driver inexperience.
Here are some tips to help you get through it all:
- Consider a Parent-Teen Driving Agreement. It defines when, where and how often they are allowed to drive. This one from the CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics is helpful.
- City limits. Each state has certain regulations regarding the number of other teens that can ride with your driver and curfews. Limit night-time driving when most accidents occur.
- Talk seriously about safe driving. Car accidents are the No. 1 cause of death in teenagers. Your parenting regarding driving does not end when they get their license.
- Be a good example. Don’t text and drive. Pull over to make a phone call. Obey the rules. Wear your seatbelt. Do not drink and drive.
- No multitasking at the wheel. Two hands on the wheel, 2 eyes on the road. Most teens should know not to text and drive but remind them about other distractions too. Tell them not to change songs or look for their sunglasses, for example.
- Choose vehicles for safety not image. Go over costs of insurance, gas, general wear and tear, and what you expect of the teen.
- Know your teen’s friends and others they will be driving with. Remind them that the rules stand no matter who is driving.
Driving is a privilege, and you are still in charge. Be the coach that they need you to be. The CDC offers other resources to help you through this.