Helping Teenage Drivers
There are several things parents can do to help their teenagers be safe behind the wheel. Here are a few tips.
- Coach your Son or Daughter. You should "coach" your teenage driver. Talk openly and frankly with him or her in order to determine his or her attitude about being behind the wheel. Work with your teen to set ground rules, such as the number of people allowed in the car, where the car may be taken, and curfew.
- Utilize Emergency Road Service. If you do not belong to a motor club, you should consider joining one that provides 24-hour emergency road service. That way, your teenager may call for help at any time if they need gas, need a jump-start, are locked out, or need a tire changed. You can also arrange with the motor club to provide service for your teen if they are in a friend’s car.
- Have an Open Discussion about Driving under the Influence. While no one wants to think about the possibility of their teenager drinking and driving—or being in a car with an impaired friend at the wheel—we need to be realistic. History has shown that teenagers will experiment with alcohol. You should make it clear to your teen that driving after drinking is not acceptable. However, if they ever do drink, or are in a car with someone else who is impaired, make it clear to your teen that he or she can call you at any time of the day or night and that you will come to get them—no questions asked.
Two other effective, though more costly, things that can be done are:
- Install a "Governor." Many vehicles—school buses and certain types of delivery vehicles are good examples—have a "governor" installed in them that restricts the amount of fuel that can be injected, thus preventing the vehicle from being driven over a certain speed. A governor in your teen’s car may help keep him or her within the speed limits.
- Install a Global Positioning System (GPS) in your car. You can program it to let you know where your teenager is driving at any time. With the GPS, you can set a radius of operation and the GPS will notify you if your teen has taken the car outside of that radius. It can even alert you when the speed limit is being exceeded. Finally, a GPS can notify you if the car is being kept out past an agreed upon curfew. We realize that this may seem like a rather extreme measure. Use of a GPS may best serve those parents who have a reason to mistrust their teenager.
When your son or daughter gets a drivers license, work with your insurance agent to review various options for both of you. It is important for you—and your son or daughter—to remember that, yes, your auto insurance rates will go up, but they will come down after a couple years of driving experience. However, the rates will really go up if your teenager has tickets or gets into accidents.