When The Kids Want To Drive…
From the time when our kids first learn to walk and talk, life becomes more interesting. In this case “interesting”, means “scary” and “stressful”. As kids grow into mobile and verbal young adults, the dangers they face- and sometimes openly encourage- multiply.
No danger is tougher to face than when your kids express interest in driving an automobile. Adults know that driving is a complex set of activities and responses that call for concentration, restraint and sound judgment- attributes most kids have only in trace quantities. The sobering possibility that your child could face or inflict serious injury or even death behind the wheel of a car can keep any parent awake at night.
Not only is teen driving frightening, it is expensive. Let’s look at some ways that both unpleasant circumstances can at least be made tolerable.
KIDS NEED TO KNOW THINGS
Kids should be REQUIRED to be educated as to the serious nature of maneuvering a ton of speeding metal and rubber around the highway. Use website parentingteendrivers.com to provide statistics and data about the perils of teen driving.
Talk seriously about the responsibility of driving, but above all YOU THE PARENT must be in charge of the process. You set the rules. If they are broken- you must take action. This is no time to be a pal. This is time to be a parent. Your child’s life depends on it.
GOOD, FIRM RULES
Aside from rules setting reasonable expectations as to the basics- speed, caution, hours and destinations- consider prohibiting your teen driver from having MORE THAN ONE passenger in the car at once. By imposing (and enforcing without exception) this limit, the possibility of distraction, horseplay, and reckless behavior are diminished.
Kids also need to know that driving (or riding with anyone) under the influence of alcohol or drugs will not be tolerated. The possibility of hurting themselves or someone else- in addition to today’s zero tolerance by the legal system- makes a powerful argument to the vast majority of kids. They do need to be reminded, however. Often.
More than a few experts recommend a written contract between parents and teen driver. Such a contact is an agreement between the parties that spells out the responsibilities of each in this experience. Here is a link that will provide you with a example of a well made contract: Parenting Teen Drivers Contract
EDUCATION, EDUCATION, EDUCATION
A driver’s education course can go a LONG way in ensuring better outcomes for driving safety. Many schools offer practical courses that teach kids good driving technique as well as road safety. Such courses often cost the parent money, but also result in discounts on the cost of insuring younger drivers.
By the way, defensive driving courses (as opposed to the “how-to” driver’s education courses above) are a good way for ALL family members to be a safer, better driver. These courses also result in significant discounts on auto policies) See this link for one of the lowest cost online opportunities around - defensive driving course.
Not too long ago, parents were advised to get a separate insurance policy for young drivers to protect parental assets should the teen incur significant damage. That strategy is no longer recommended.
Given the recent behavior of the legal system, parents’ assets are no longer always sheltered by carrying a separate policy for teen drivers. According, agents now recommend simply adding the teen driver and car to the parent’s policy. Yes, it’s expensive, but that is the nature of having a teen driver in the house.
Seek discounts where you can. In addition to driver education and defensive driving discounts, many carriers offer “good student” discounts. You should also make sure that you take advantage of discounts for bundling policies (car and home with the same company), electronic payment discounts and paying in full on the policy expiration date.
Finally, parents should consider an umbrella policy. Umbrella policies take over when the limits of homeowner and or auto policies are exhausted. Extra protection of $1.0 million and more can be purchased for $150-$250 in most cases. Ask your agent about ALL of these tips. Find out more about Personal Umbrellas.