Do you have a new teen driver in the house? Congratulations are in order! After all, your days of chauffeuring your child around town are numbered. While this change is sure to be positive in the long run, you still need to build trust with your teen if you want your anxiety levels to return to normal. Here are some helpful suggestions.
Sign a Parent-Teen Driving Contract
To make sure you and your teen driver are on the same page, it’s wise to sit down and have a talk about what constitutes an “incident” on the road and the resulting consequences. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a great parent-teen driving contract you can download, print off, and fill out with your teenager. The agreement includes:
- Promises to be a responsible driver, obey the rules of the road, stay focused while driving, and respect laws regarding drugs and alcohol behind the wheel
- Driving restrictions, which you may choose to modify over time as your new teen driver gets more experience and demonstrates responsibility
- Penalties for violating any promises in the contract
Feel free to garner inspiration from the CDC’s contract and make any modifications to suit your specific situation. Fill out the contract with your teen present so both of you can agree on reasonable restrictions and penalties for certain infractions.
Agree on Costs
Before your teen gets behind the wheel for the first time, have a chat about the financial aspect of driving. Will your teen need to buy her own car? Who will pay for insurance? How will you handle accidents and cosmetic repair costs? It’s vitally important to define these terms – and add them to your parent-teen driving contract – to avoid surprises and explosive arguments in the future.
React Appropriately to Bad Driving Behavior
When your teen driver makes a mistake, don’t overreact. Instead, approach the situation carefully, patiently, and lovingly. It’s your job to remind your teenager that unconditional love and a desire to keep her safe are your primary motivations.
If your teen requests changes to the contract – perhaps by driving later, further, or with more passengers than normally allowed – be prepared to hear statements like, “Why don’t you trust me?” Since your goal is to build trust both ways, this can be hard to hear, but stay consistent and don’t bend the rules in the contract unless you decide to make a permanent change.
Reward Good Driving Behavior
It’s easy to only mention your teen driver’s mistakes, but as she makes it several weeks with no incidents, be sure to tell her that you recognize how well she’s doing. Express how proud you are that she’s taking her driving privileges seriously. Consider offering a reward, such as loosening some of the restrictions in the parent-teen driving contract or offering to supplement gas money.
Keep the Conversation Going
As the months and years go by, your teen will grow increasingly comfortable and mature behind the wheel. Even after two or three years of safe driving under your teen’s belt, it’s still important to keep the conversation going. After all, the upcoming college years will probably include road trips back home and late-night driving, so offer continual reminders about safe, vigilant driving practices and the importance of not becoming complacent behind the wheel.
Let Scott’s Fort Collins Auto Keep Your Teen’s Car Safe
Whether your teenager’s car needs a routine oil change or repair after a fender bender, our skilled mechanics can take care of it. We offer top-to-bottom services, which means your teen can bring her car in for everything from scheduled maintenance work to safety inspections to car battery testing.