Getting a driver's license--it's the right of passage most every teen looks forward to and every parent approaches with a mix of worry, relief and a little sadness. To your teen it represents freedom, independence and getting closer to adulthood. For parents it's not only a reminder that your 'baby' is no longer a child anymore, but also represents a little light at the end of the tunnel. Now little Johnny can take himself to baseball practice or piano lessons, maybe even the grocery store! That's about when the worry sets in around him being safe on the road. We know it's a stressful time, so we at Cellcontrol put together these tips to help out. Here are 4 things you should do before your teen gets their license.
- Select the right driver education program.
If you’re one of the few lucky families that still lives in counties where the school district still offers driver’s ed classes as part of the regular school curriculum, your search probably won’t take long. But it’s more likely that your local school district phased out driver’s ed courses long ago. If that's the case, you'll want to find the right driving school for your teen and your situation. Check the Google ratings of local schools in your city or town. You can also talk with friends and family about what they liked or didn't like about the schools they used. Also, it's likely your teen has friends who will also be going through driver's ed. Talk to their parents about where they're sending their kids. Sending your teen through the class with his or her peer group may also have other advantages like carpool or group drive time accountability. It may be that an online course could work for your teen. Whatever school you choose, make sure they are not just focused on passing the driving test, but on real risk reduction techniques, including: proper vehicle handling, space management, quickly recognizing road hazards and speed management.
Look at the graduated licensing laws for your state
Successfully completing a certified driver's education course is only the first step in the driver's licensing process. Many states have what's called a graduated licensing program, requiring your teen to wait a certain amount of time or complete certain pre-requisites before getting a full-fledged driver's license. It's important to familiarize yourself with the laws that are applicable in your state. If you don't know, you find specific laws for your state through our friends at DMV.org; just follow this link to get further details.
Agree on driving responsibilities, privileges and expectations.This is a big one. You've probably already said it to your teen countless times, but driving is a huge responsibility. Long before your teen gets their license, you need to sit down with them to talk about this responsibility and set expectations about what comes with it. You talk with them to come to an agreement about when, how often and for what purposes he or she will be allowed the keys to the car. Maybe it's certain days or times during the week, or in exchange for running certain errands or doing certain chores. Whatever works in your family, it's best to be clear with the arrangement. You might even consider this parent-teen agreement from our friends at Allstate to help you get started.
Talk about and model driving safety.You probably already know that auto accidents are the number one cause of death for teen drivers. That stat and others are why it's so important that while your discussing your expectations about driving priviledge and responsibilities, it's also important to talk about driving safety. Reinforcing the skills your teen is or will be learning in driver's ed and monitoring safe driving practices is imperative. From not allowing your teen to drive with other passengers (as their chance of accident goes up exponentially) to stressing the importance of not using a mobile device behind the wheel, here are a few tips to get your started. It's also important to remember that your teen observes everything you do--a 'do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do' approach will not be effective in teaching safety behind the wheel. So it's important that you as a parent are not only familiar with your local laws and safe driving practices, but are also modeling them in your family.
Hope that helps prep you for a very exciting time in your teen's life. Any questions or comments, please let us know! We've helped parents across the globe get peace of mind when their teens started driving and we can help you too! Have a friend who could benefit from these tips, please share!