It seems like just the other day you were carefully driving home from the hospital with your newborn snuggled safely in their car seat. Fast forward 16 years and suddenly your little baby is sitting behind the driver’s wheel, eager to hit the road on their own. If you’re the nervous parent of a teen who just got their license, consider these five tips to help you manage their transition from passenger to driver.
- Invest in a driver’s education course. It could be hard to admit, but your headstrong teen might have an easier time taking direction from someone else. Professional teachers work with new drivers every day, so they are fully equipped to teach the skills needed to become a safe, defensive driver. As an added bonus, many insurers offer a discount on car insurance for drivers who complete a recognized program.
- Consider a Usage-Based Insurance Plan. A usage-based insurance plan uses a telematics device to track your driving habits (such as acceleration, speed and braking) and sends the information to your insurance company to demonstrate your safe driving. In return, you could be eligible for a discount on your premium. One study showed that the real-time feedback drivers get from this type of plan helps improve their habits and become safer in the process, and this was especially true for young people.
- Set the rules. Eventually, your teen will be on the road without you. While that might leave you feeling powerless, you should still set ground rules for driving alone. They could include:
- No using the phone while driving;
- A limit to the amount of passengers;
- A curfew that limits night time driving;
- Zero tolerance for drinking and driving;
- Full transparency on where, when and with who they are driving; and
- Always wear a seatbelt.
- Install a dash cam. Dash cams record your drive, and for parents of teens, this footage can be used to review their habits when you’re not in the car. Although your teen might not like it, you can explain that it is actually a chance to prove they’re following your rules. Some dash cams come with GPS that logs the speed and location of your car, which can also help you keep tabs on their driving behaviour.
- Give them some (or all) of the financial responsibility. Your teen might be excited about the freedom that comes with driving, but they should also understand the financial responsibility of owning a car. There are many ways you can involve them in managing your vehicle’s expenses, such as:
- Creating a personal budget that factors in the cost of car payments, gas, insurance and maintenance;
- Setting up savings account to put money away for their own car;
- Showing them how to compare car insurance quotes online; and
- Expecting them to pay for their own gas, insurance and parking.
You know your teen better than most, which means you are in the best position to decide if they’ve earned the right to drive. If they haven’t, continue to place limits on their freedom behind the wheel. They might not know it now, but one day they’ll appreciate that you made all of your rules out of love.