I'm not an expert at raising teens. Maybe someday I will be (by time the last kid is out of the house, we will have had 15-years of experience parenting teens). But for now, we just ask lots of questions and listen to people who have more experience.
About a year ago we began to teach Heather how to drive...which culminated with getting her license this past Friday. Of course, we've never taught anyone how to drive before, and there isn't a training course available for parents. We're just supposed to figure this stuff out. So I started reading. I learned...
- Inexperienced driving is cited as the reason for most teenage crashes.
- 16-year-olds are about three times more likely to die in a crash as the average-aged driver.
- 16-year-olds have a higher crash rate than any other age of driver.
- About half of teenage deaths occur when there is another teen in the car.
- Death rates for 16- and 17-year-old drivers increase with each extra passenger.
I realized it's not about trust--it's about experience. Heather is a great driver, but she will make mistakes in the learning process (as we all do). It's our job to do everything we can to help minimize the possible damage from those mistakes. Tragedies happen and we can't ensure her safety, but we can do much to prepare her and decrease the chances that she is the cause of a tragedy.
So we pulled ideas from a bunch of websites and wrote up a Parent/Teen Driving Contract. It outlines graduated freedoms based on experience, and lets her know that we are here to support her as she gets used to being on the road alone.
Want a copy? Download Heather Driving Agreement
What do you think...too anal? Thoughts from other parents?