Is Your Teen Ready To Drive?

In 2014, 2,270 teens between the ages of 16 – 19 were killed and more than 220,000 injured in car crashes. This age group has the highest risk for accidents among drivers of all ages. No wonder then that when teens ask mom or dad to let them drive, parents are filled with worry and apprehension.

Driving for teens is a sort of rite of passage, like the first date. It gives them a sense of confidence and makes them feel grown-up. But as parents, it is your responsibility to gauge your teen’s readiness (or lack of it) to drive a car. Driving is serious business and allowing a teen who is not mentally and emotionally qualified to drive can have grave consequences.3

Here are general guidelines to help you find out if your teen is ready to drive:

State requirements

The most basic guideline is, of course, meeting the state’s age and other requirements before anyone can drive. Each state has its own minimum age requirement to be issued a learner’s permit. It ranges from 14 – 16 years old. A driver’s education is a requisite to get the permit. The age eligible for obtaining a driver’s license ranges from 16 – 18 years old. Other requirements may include birth certificate, social security number, vision test, proof of state residency, etc.

Shows a sense of responsibility

You can tell if your teen is mature enough to be trusted with driving a car. Children who have a sense of responsibility show it by meeting their obligations in school and at home. These are very simple duties but doing them without prodding from you is a good indicator of responsibility. Teenage kids who study and do their homework, or perform their assigned household chores without being constantly reminded show that they are responsible. Obeying parents’ curfews and other rules is also a sign of trustworthiness. It is the responsible teens who almost always make good and safe drivers.

Follows the rules on driving

Although driving rules are taught in a driving education course, you must emphasize the importance of following them, and other rules you set. Basic driving laws include: drive within the speed limit; everyone on board must wear seatbelts; no drinking and driving; no texting, calling or using the cell phone in any way while driving; follow traffic rules always; don’t tailgate.

Your own rules may include calling you when destination is reached, informing you if plans change; getting home at the prescribed time, etc.

You should also teach your teen car maintenance basics like changing a flat tire, checking for gas, brakes, lights, and mirrors in place. Stress the importance of obeying traffic rules and never leaving the scene of an accident since a hit and run penalty may lead to a revocation of license, compensation payments and even jail time.

It is recommended that a parent should accompany a teen in driving for the first few months. Take them to school or to shop for groceries and let them drive, granting they already have a learner’s permit or a license. That’s the best way to gauge your teen’s driving attitude. It’s also an opportune time to point out road situations encountered while driving and teach the new driver how to handle such circumstances.

Displays sound judgment and levelheadedness

A reliable indication of whether your teen is ready to drive is their decision-making in situations they encounter. Does your teenage child frequently get into trouble at school or with friends? Is he impulsive and rash? Does she cave in to peer pressure regarding drugs, drinks, sex or bullying someone? Open communication with your kids are occasions for evaluating their good judgment, upon which their readiness to drive can be assessed