When your teen is finally old enough to get a driver’s license, a parent can feel many conflicting emotions ranging from fear to relief. Your days of carting your child around everywhere are over, for the most part, but trusting your child to get herself everywhere she needs to go safely and securely isn’t easy to do. As a result, many parents are opting to do more than merely talk to their teen driver about their household driving rules – they’re putting their expectations and rules in writing with a parent-teen driving agreement (PTDA).
Safety organizations, states, and insurers have long had PTDAs in rotation, but a new report is asking every State Highway Safety Office to modify their standing PTDA or create one that reflects teen driving laws and best practices, especially in light of the pervasive smartphone that has resulted in so much distracted driving.
Defining the Parent-Teen Driving Agreement
A PTDA should be written clearly and concisely but offer as much detail as possible so that teens are not at all in doubt about their parents’ expectations for them when they’re behind the wheel. Just some of the actions that a PTDA can address include:
- Alcohol or drug use
- Cell phone use
- Consequences of violating the agreement
- Costs of driving
- Monitoring driving behavior
- Rules of the road
- Seat belt use
- Situations that warrant calling for a safe ride
- Whether passengers are permitted in the car
While teen drivers need to know the state’s driving laws, it’s also important to make them aware of the major causes of teen car crashes, such as inexperience, distraction, inebriation, and poor decision-making. And, frankly, it’s good for parents to be made aware of these faults as well – far too many adults are delighted that their teen can finally drive that they fail to realize what kind of danger their child is now in, and what kind of danger other people on the road are in because of your child’s newfound freedom.
A PTDA is an opportunity to highlight the most important privileges and consequences of driving, and it’s also an opportunity to make clear the rules that are suitable for your home, the area in which you live, and the abilities of your teen.
It’s also important to remember that even though your teen may never seem to be listening to you or paying attention to your warnings, they are watching you, probably quite closely. Teens want to learn but they don’t always want it to be obvious so they’ll observe what you’re doing. If you text while driving or are easily distracted or disobey the rules of the road, don’t expect your teen to act any differently. Your example matters just as much as your PTDA.
About: David Christensen has more than 20 years of experience representing victims who been seriously hurt or injured in of a motor vehicle accident. Christensen Law is located in Southfield, MI.