Take a Contract Out with your Teenager
June 15, 2007
The statistics have been repeated often enough – car accidents account as the biggest killer of teenagers in the country. The recent article in The Tribune states that parents could be unwittingly contributing to the cause of these accidents. How? It’s easy enough to figure out. Not that many parents have strict guidelines for their teens in regards to driving.
Parents – it is your job to communicate the rules of the road and by that, the article meant those rules that you don’t learn in a driver’s education course. With teenagers, you cannot assume anything. You may think they understand that texting and driving at the same time is dangerous. However, you have to actually vocalize it in order for them to recognize and remember it.
The same thought applies to a number of different scenarios. That is why the recent article in The Tribune states that parents should have a contract with their teenage driver. If there is a special set of delineated rules that both parents and teenagers should follow, there is less chance of failure. The key to success is for parents to work with their teens to create these rules together. Parents – you may be pleasantly surprised at how many teenagers “get it”. They just have to practice “it”.
While many parents and teens know how the basic rules should be, it doesn’t hurt to review them again. For instance, not that many teenagers may realize that night driving is particularly hazardous to a fairly new driver. What they should know is that seat belts are a must. Teenagers should not even put the car in gear unless each and every person was wearing a seat belt, even the friends in the back seat.
For the ultimate contract with your teenager, you as the parent must promise to adhere to the same rules. In other words, you have to be a good driving role model for your teenager. Of course, most adults are set in their ways, so it will actually take more effort on your part to keep your act together while driving on the road. Can you keep both eyes on the road and avoid using your cell phone while driving? Will you be able to adhere to all driving laws and avoid those California rolls through stop signs and blatant red light running?
As parents, you should not wait to convey all of these driving rules of the road. Start talking about safe driving practices with your kids before they get old enough to drive. And practice what you preach. That is the bottom line to maintain driving legitimacy in your teen’s eyes.