Wait! My Teen is Ready to Drive!

new teen driver with driver's license
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Whether you’ve waited for your teen to reach driving age with excitement or trepidation– it’s important you understand the process before you get started! Things have changed a lot since you got your license. We’re in the 21rst century where Tesla’s energy saving cars are what’s trending (even teens want luxury vehicles) and there is no such thing as a car without wifi. Here are some helpful tips to help you navigate with your teen, this huge milestone!


Get a Learner’s Permit: Each state has different requirements for the learner’s permit. For all of them you will need to present a valid birth certificate and most likely a social security card. The parent of the child must present a valid driver’s license from the issuing state. You may need to present proof of insurance, as well. Some states may require proof of residency. Typically, your teen will take a book test about basic driving procedures and street signs. The book is usually available in PDF format from your state’s motor vehicle division. In many states you can still obtain a paper copy.


State approved driving schools: The city you live in or near may have a state-approved driving school. It’s easy to check local listings. In addition your teen’s high school may have an agreement with a state-approved driving school, and she or he can take the class after school or in the evenings.


Online Parent-Taught Course:  Many states have online courses available. You can Google driver’s ed and your state to find those courses. These do require you to do some work. You will be responsible for guiding your teen through the course, and logging driving time with them at the wheel. While doing this, contact your insurance company even though your teen isn’t licensed yet. Your insurance company needs to know that your teen is driving your family vehicles for practice purposes. Most insurance companies won’t start charging for a new driver until they get their license.


Driving Contract: Haven’t heard of this one, have you? This is a written agreement between you and your child regarding their upcoming driving privileges. Having a driving contract with your teen isn’t being a dictator, it’s making sure that your teen understands the responsibilities that come with driving. Things that you and your teen should agree upon include a savings account (If they break it, they pay for it.), rules for driving the family car, who pays for gas and insurance and last but not least what are the grounds for which driving privileges are removed. Whether bad grades, not enough car upkeep, behavioral issues, etc. please spell it all out in the contract so everyone’s on the same page from the get go.


Practice Makes Perfect!: As a parent, try taking your child out to help them learn outside of driving school. You’ll want to be sure that your teen drives during daylight and night hours, on residential streets and busy thoroughfares to gain good experience. A lot of  things you feel like you should say to your teen– they may have already learned in their driving class. Just like you don’t like a backseat driver, neither does your kid! Try to keep your apprehension and anxiety to a minimum. Trust that your teen is already stressed with you in the car! But don’t be afraid to let them know when they need to slow down. If they’re driving too slow, you might encourage them to speed up a little, but not much until they are more familiar with the feel of the car and the road.


Take the Test: Once the “learning period” is over your teen will take the driving test. Scheduling the test may come as a surprise. Many motor vehicle offices are booked months in advance! You can look for offices that are further away from you that may have shorter wait periods. One thing to be wary about – residency documentation for the license! Many states now require proof of residency in order to get a driver’s license, and this can be tricky if you are renting or in between residences. In most cases a mortgage bill, rental lease and current bank statement serve as proof.


Get the License: Many teens do not pass the first time – and that’s okay. Give your teen the emotional support she or he needs, then reschedule the test. Once he or she passes the test immediately take a picture or copy the license. Your child may initially get a paper license, with the laminated card following later. Either way, take a picture of that sucker.


Call the Insurance Company: This is it! Your insurance bill will never be the same. Ever. Well, once your kid gets their own insurance, you can exhale. Kind of. Because even though they’re grown, they’re still your kid and you worry…lol!


Congratulations on raising your child up to this point, and may the odds be ever in your favor! Okay, yes, that was a Hunger Games reference. Seriously though, I hope these steps help you, your family, and your teen have a successful driving experience. While this is a major rite of passage, relax and breathe, Mom. You’ve done a great job and it’s really gonna be alright!


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