Whether you like it or not, your baby is growing up fast. It's already time to give your teen driving lessons and frequent the DMV. They will be begging you for their first car (or borrow yours, every minute of every day). I know giving your teen car keys is very stressful, and somewhat unnerving due to the terrible accidents from drunk driving and texting while driving. If you communicate and stress the importance of no texting while driving and set certain guidelines beforehand, giving your teen their first set of car keys will be a little less stressful, knowing you've taken every precaution possible to warn them about the dangers (and safety) of driving.
First, your teen needs to understand driving a car isn't a right it's a privilege. When they're behind the wheel they are operating a potentially deadly weapon. And with power comes great responsibility; thus the need for auto insurance.
Here are some rules and guidelines your teen should follow if they want to start driving on their own:
State how many people are allowed in their car. The less people the better. Immediately, your teens friends will start wanting rides to school, the movies, the mall and the more friends your teen has in their car, the more distractions, which increases the chance for an accident. A good number is two. Allow your teen to have up to two passengers in the car at all times, no exceptions.
Absolutely NO Texting While Driving
According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2009 an estimated 5,400 people died and 448,000 people were injured in car crashes involving a distracted driver. You want to know what the most common distraction was? Cell phone use and texting. It's no wonder some states have taken to the law and made talking and texting while driving illegal. There is no reason for your teen to be answering calls or texting while driving. Explain to them if it's an emergency to pull over to a parking lot or the side of the road and use their phone. Never while the vehicle is in motion.
How to Act if They're Pulled Over
Whether you want to admit it or not, everyone at some point or another will be pulled over. Teach your teen how to respond when they are pulled over and to never get defensive. Be polite to the officer and when he approaches you, calmly state for his badge number and let him know you are verifying he is indeed a police officer. If he is, he won't mind that you're making sure you keep yourself protected. Have your drivers license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance ready. When speaking with an officer, speak clearly, don't make excuses and always use appropriate language.
Make Sure They Understand There Will Be Consequences if Rules Are Broken
If you find the rules you've set (friend limit, where your teen can and can't drive, etc.) were broken, they need to know immediately that the behavior will not be tolerated. You should take away their car, video game and Internet privileges. If you do, they are most likely never going to break your rules again.
Top Cars for First-Time Drivers
According to Cars.com, here's a list of top cars for first-time drivers:
2012 Kia Soul-It's a great value for the money (starting at $13,900) and is tech-savvy enough your teen will want to be seen in it.
2012 Hyundai Accent-The best deal for first-time drivers who want to use their own money to purchase a brand-new car. Starting at $13,320, this car get's the most bang for the buck and has great fuel efficiency.
2012 Honda Civic-The Honda Civic is a tried and true car that has been driven by millions of drivers throughout the years. Starting at $15,605, it's a little more expensive but remains a top seller, so you know the car will be worth the extra dough.
There are other options available for your teen, just do the research on cars and choose the best fit for them (and make sure their safety features are up-to-date, with great reviews).
Authored by: Pete Morris A gentle giant, Pete is a high school basketball coach, painter and car mechanic. He has been fixing cars since he was 13 and loves saving the day when someone's car won't run.