Few things can be more exhilarating for a teenager than getting their first permit to drive. The feeling of freedom, liberation and fun is a powerful combination, and a rite of passage for almost every young adult.
But for the parents of those newly-licensed drivers, it can be a real problem. Most people take the position that their kids are smart, safety conscious and responsible. And it's great to be proud of your kids, and hope that they do all the things you have taught them over their lives to behave responsibly once they are old enough to get behind the wheel.
But instead of sitting home and stressing about what your son or daughter may be doing when they borrow the keys, realistic parents will enact certain rules and regulations when it comes to allowing their kids to head on down the road.
5 Things You Should Consider for Your Newly-Licensed Driver:
1. Don't Allow Unrestricted Access to the Car
In Florida, a 15-year old can obtain a Learner's Permit, which permits them to drive with certain limitations. They may drive only during daylight hours for the first 3 months, and only before 10pm after that. They must ALWAYS be accompanied by a licensed driver over the age of 21, who sits in the front passenger seat. (The full details from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles can be found here.)
But, many parents figure that letting Johnny run up to the local convenience store for milk by himself is OK – heck, it's just right down the street. “The fact is that in a lot cases, a young driver still needs considerable time and practical experience behind the wheel before heading out on their own”, says Fort Myers personal injury attorney Scot D. Goldberg. “It only takes a second for an inexperienced driver to make a fatal mistake behind the wheel, and it can happen just a few blocks from home”.
2. Restrict and Monitor the Number of Passengers in their Car
Statistics have shown that teenage drivers can become easily distracted because of what others are doing inside their car. Many serious crashes happen when kids are, well, being kids. When you have a group of 3 or 4 kids all experiencing the thrill of being out on the road, unsupervised by Mom and Dad, it can be a recipe for disaster. Distracted driving doesn't just mean using a cellphone behind the wheel – it can be goofing around with passengers in the back seat, messing with the radio or unwrapping a burger.
These types of scenarios need to be avoided, and parents need a clear understanding of the number of people their kid is allowed to have in the car, and the consequences of breaking that rule.
3. Daylight Driving Only
Even after your kid is allowed by law to drive after dark, it doesn't mean it's the best idea. After such a short time being on the road, the majority of young drivers still require much more time behind the wheel to fully grasp the complexities and safety habits a skilled driver needs. Studies show that the number of motor vehicle crashes involving drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 increases dramatically at night. If your child needs to be somewhere at night, don't hesitate to keep your title of chauffer, or make specific arrangements to ensure your child remains where they are supposed to be for the entire night.
The hassle of driving them will be far less painful than the heartbreak of never seeing them get back home safely.
4. Ride with Your Kid as Much as Possible
“Never miss an opportunity to ride along when your child is driving”, Goldberg says. “Long after my kids were ‘old enough' to drive alone, I would tag along until I felt comfortable enough in their driving skills to let them go it alone”.
Riding along with your kids gives you time to watch how they react to a variety of real-life traffic situations, bad weather, or an unexpected tire blowout. The more time you have to educate them and prepare them for the unexpected, the better equipped they'll be to handle it. Even if your kid brags about his or her skills behind the wheel, resist the urge to let them out alone too soon.
Letting them go out on their own can be a traumatic experience for most parents – make sure they're really ready to do it.
5. Set Some Rules, and Stick to Them
Responsible parents realize that there are consequences for breaking the rules, and that is never more important than when it comes to driving privileges. Setting the rules in writing can be an important key to your kids' understanding the ramifications of breaking them, providing a constant reminder for them to see.
There are a number of resources that offer examples of agreements or contracts between parents and young drivers. If you don't feel like writing them yourself, take a minute to check out some ideas here.
Don't Stick Your Head in the Sand
Parents are naturally inclined to be in their kid's corner, and to have their back when things go wrong. When it comes to whether they are a good driver or not, it's easy to turn a blind eye and just assume that your kid has got driving safety all figured out.
But please, don't worry so much about seeming like a meddling parent, or implying that you do not trust your son or daughter behind the wheel. Instead, worry that you have done virtually everything within your power to make sure they fully grasp the scope of responsibility that is involved in driving, and the severity of being distracted, reckless or just plain stupid behind the wheel.
There are so many headlines today about young drivers being seriously hurt or even killed in a horrific crash on the road. So many of these cases can be prevented by following some basic guidelines regarding your child's safety once they're old enough to hit the road.
The Goldberg Law Firm helps people who have suffered a serious or fatal injury in an accident that was caused by the negligence of someone else. It does not cost a thing to sit down with us to talk about your specific situation, and how we may be able to help. When you hire our law firm, you pay nothing for our aggressive legal representation unless we obtain a favorable financial settlement on your behalf. Call 239-461-5508 to speak directly to one of our personal injury attorneys, or just fill out the simple form to the right, and we will contact you immediately.