It’s not easy watching kids grow up. They seem to go from learning to ride a bike to learning to drive a car in the blink of an eye. As a parent, it can be difficult to hand over the keys – especially knowing how dangerous driving can be for a young and inexperienced driver.
The Center for Disease Control’s statistics are sobering. More than 243,000 teen drivers were taken to the ER in 2013 for injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident, and six of them died each day that year due to motor vehicle injuries. So what can you do to make sure your teen is ready to get behind the wheel? We’ve listed our top 4 signs to know whether your new driver is ready to go solo.
1. They Have Plenty of Experience
Driver inexperience is the number one cause of car accidents involving teens. Your child can never have too much practice behind the wheel under your supervision. Once your teen is six months past his or her fifteenth birthday, he or she can complete a driver education course, pass a knowledge test, and receive an instructional permit. The law requires that your child holds the permit for at least six months without any violations. During that time, your child should spend at least 30 hours driving, 10 of which should be at night. Of course, the more time your child spends driving under your supervision, the better.
2. They Do Not Drive Distracted
Distracted driving is a factor in more than half of accidents involving teens. Cell phone use and the presence of other passengers are the most common distractions. Make sure you talk regularly with your teen about the dangers of texting or talking on the phone while driving. Other distractive behaviors include changing the radio station, turning around to talk with a friend, eating, or even putting on makeup.
3. They Demonstrate Self-Control On the Road
Frustrations are inevitable while driving, from getting cut off or having to slow down for a school zone despite being late for class. The way your teen handles these situations is an indicator of his or her ability to cope with real life scenarios on a daily basis.
4. They Take the Rules Seriously
If your teenager tends to view rules as more of a suggestion than a guideline, he or she may not be ready to drive alone. Driving requires concentration on signs and speed limits, as well as obedience to other requirements, such as seatbelt laws. Teens who have been caught speeding, not wearing a seatbelt, not obeying provisionary license restrictions, or ‘bending’ other rules may not be ready for the keys.
Driving is a Privilege
Ultimately, it is up to you – the parent – to determine whether your child is ready to drive alone, or even at all. Driving is a privilege that must be earned. Your child may not be ready to drive if he or she:
- Has demonstrated irresponsible behavior behind the wheel
- Has not had adequate supervised training behind the wheel
- Has no personal interest in driving
- Is subject to impulsiveness
- Is unable to manage anger in an effective way
- Tends to break rules or defy authority
- Seems oblivious to surroundings when driving
Handing over the keys too early can lead to long-term consequences. Not only is an inexperienced driver at higher risk of an accident, but any traffic violations or at-fault collisions could mean big spikes in your insurance premiums. Since car insurance for teens is already higher on average than it is for older, more experienced drivers, the financial consequences could be significant.
For more information about keeping your teen safe behind the wheel, visit CDC.gov. For more information about car insurance for teens and how you can find the right policy for your new driver, contact our office today.