When your kid is getting close to sixteen, thinking about their first car is like a rite of passage into maturity. They see their friends at school driving, and they think about the fateful day when they will be able to get behind the wheel. This can be a scary time for a parent because we all know about the risks involved with new drivers. So how do you know when they’re really ready? We’ve compiled a few things to think about before handing over the keys.
Exercising Good Judgment in General
Allowing teenagers the opportunity of having their own car, sharing a car, or borrowing your car on occasion is a big responsibility and major privilege. Does your child understand the major responsibility involved in driving and caring for a vehicle? One way to know this is how they carry themselves. Can they handle responsibilities like doing homework, keeping up on their chores, and maintaining a balance of daily life activities? Do they treat others with respect? The way a person treats another individual can translate into their driving behavior and how they handle daily traffic on the road. You are the only one who knows your child, and you are the best one to determine if they can handle such a big responsibility. If they can’t handle other responsibilities, then can you trust them to be a safe driver and take care of a car?
Education is Key
Besides being mature and responsible enough to drive, making sure your teenager knows everything they need to know about driving is exceptionally important. Not only book knowledge about traffic safety and driving habits, but also putting that knowledge into practice is important to mold them into the driver they need to be. Don’t be the parent that leaves all driving practice up to the nearest Driver’s Ed program. As soon as your child receives their driving permit, make time for them to practice in a safe location. Go over turns, parallel parking, what to do and not to do in every driving scenario. Help them study! When they are getting ready for the big test quiz them, make flash cards, and drill it in their heads! We recommend teaching them emergency preparedness as well as basic vehicle maintenance. If you need to brush up on those basics, then learn together! It will be a great bonding experience for you and your child.
Stay Ahead of the Game
I think the most dreadful thought parents have about letting their teens drive are the risks involved. At the end of the day, we just want them to be safe. Did they make it to practice okay? How long are they going to be out with their friends tonight? Do you need to worry about what’s going on around town? We’ve all been there, and so the best thing we can do is be prepared ahead of time. I remember as a teenager my first accident was one of the scariest things I had ever been through. I think being prepared for it would have made the event easier to deal with.
–Full Coverage Insurance: Let’s be honest, cars are expensive! But, if an accident were to happen when your teen is driving, it’s better to have that extra coverage. You want to invest a few more dollars per month in a good full coverage insurance package because you’ll end up paying more out of pocket for those serious emergencies than you would if you only had liability. Shop around and compare prices for the best deal. You can also include medical coverage up to a specific amount and roadside assistance.
–Consider an AAA membership: You’re not always going to be available for every emergency that happens. As your kids get older, there could be a situation where you can’t get to them quickly. That’s where having roadside assistance comes in handy! For a few bucks a month you can enroll in an AAA membership to help with times where you can’t be the superhero parent. As stated before, some insurance packages include roadside assistance like this, but if that’s not available AAA is a fabulous resource for any vehicle owner.
–Have an Auto Emergency Kit: Flat tires, bad weather issues, cars over heating—any situation you can think of! Create an emergency automotive kit to keep in your kid’s cars for those moments when they need to be ready for the unpredictable. If you want to learn more about what you should include in an emergency kit, go here.
-Have a Longstanding Relationship with an Auto Shop You Can Trust: Building relationships with an automotive shop you trust can really make a difference. You want to go somewhere with competitive pricing, certified technicians, and quality work you know from experience. By building relationships you are sure to know that they will continue to treat you well in the long run and that can ease the stress of your future car repairs. Plus, there’s always the advantage of being a long term customer since most places have loyalty rewards programs. If you take care of them, they’ll take care of you. It will also make it easier on other people in your family when they have car repairs because you won’t have to worry about any of the details.
-Keep Up with Basic Maintenance: Cars are like a living organism, just like any living being they need to be taken care of. If you keep up with basic maintenance of your car, then your car will last longer and the less likely of a chance for a major repair to happen in the future. Teach your child to know how to maintain their vehicle’s needs. Read through the owner’s manual with them and take note of manufacturer recommendations.
Some of these ideas are just a few things to consider when that monumental day comes. Allow this transition in life to be an opportunity for you and your teen to grow together and be a transition into maturity for your new driver. Don’t be afraid, be prepared! We hope that reading this can ease your mind around the idea of getting ready for this big step of life. It’s a big step not only for your teen, but for you too! Hang in there, you can make it!