Gone are the tricycle days, when the only traffic jam that your child had to deal with was an errant set of toy cars that blocked the path to the backyard. You have watched your child grow from a baby into a full fledged teenager and now you are preparing for the next chapter in your child’s development…driving.
For some parents, it is hard to fathom that their child will be sharing the road with them and millions of other drivers. For others, who are often the family chauffeurs, they are ready to share the driving duties or to even be relieved of some of them. So, they are ready and willing to embrace this new chapter of life. With all of that, how can a family determine if a child, despite being age-eligible to get a license, is actually ready to drive? Here are five things to consider:
- Is your teenager able to take accountability when they make mistakes? This is one of the most important factors in determining whether your child is ready to take on driving. When we drive there are so many things that can go wrong, even for the most experienced driver. Therefore, it is imperative that someone who is planning to drive understands and is willing to be held responsible for their actions. If your teenager struggles with this, you may want to have more conversations around it and hold off on getting that license.
- Is your teenager mature enough? Teenagers will be silly. That’s what makes them fun to be around. But, in serious situations, is your teenager able to put things in perspective and maintain composure when they are under pressure. Your teenager’s maturity could affect their driving judgement.
- Are you comfortable with your teenager being totally autonomous? Once your child has their license, they will have new-found freedom. But, as a parent, you could have emotions that make this transition a bit more difficult. It is in everyone’s best interest that your family sets parameters and expectations with regard to your teenager’s driving privileges.
- Is your family prepared to handle the increase in finances that will be needed with a new driver? This can include increased insurance premiums, additional fuel costs, and possibly a car payment. Your family will need to determine what will work for you financially.
- Does your child use drugs or alcohol? Even if you are not the person supplying your teenager with illegal substances, you need to consider this type of activity when it comes to preparing for your teenager to drive. Drug and alcohol addiction can cause impaired judgement and irrationality, along with all of the physical issues that one would expect. Try not to put your family in a position of knowingly putting an impaired driver on the road.
Driving is a rite of passage for young people and for some, earning a driver’s license will be like a badge of honor with their peers. All of that is fine, but ultimately, your child’s safety and the safety of the community at large should be the key determining factors for whether or not they should actively pursue driving in this stage of their life.