The idea of a teen getting his or her permit and then license is like a rite of passage. It can seem like something that’s just done no matter what when a teen reaches a certain age, but is that always the best thing?
Driving is a huge responsibility,and unfortunately, teen drivers are often involved in accidents, and those can be deadly. In fact, car accidents are the top cause of death for teens in the U.S. Car accidents account for one in three deaths in the teen age group.
It’s important parents think about not just the age and legal requirements that come with a teen driving, but if their teen is really mature enough and fully ready for all that driving brings in terms of responsibilities.
The following are some signs your teen is ready to drive, versus maybe not being so prepared and what you should think about looking for as a parent.
Is Your Teen Showing Interest in Learning to Drive?
A teen is usually thrilled to learn how to drive and will even dedicate time to studying handbooks and preparing for permit and driver’s test. If your teen isn’t proactively doing that, they may not be ready for driving.
Fewer teens are getting their licenses than in the past,and some of that is because they aren’t interested or maybe don’t feel like it’s that important to them. If your teen isn’t actively working toward learning how to drive, it’s a sign they’re not ready,and you shouldn’t push them.
Your teen might be ready to drive if he or she is already not just studying and working on learning to drive, but maybe is thinking about or actively saving up for a car. This shows a teen is willing to take the initiative and responsibility when it comes to driving, and it’s something important to them.
How Does Your Teen Deal with Guidelines and Boundaries?
There are important things a new teen driver needs to adhere to when it comes to being safe on the road, including avoiding the distractions of too many friends in the car or texting and driving. If your teen doesn’t like rules or tends to push boundaries in other areas of life, even slightly, they might do the same when it comes to driving.
Until your teen can show a respect for certain boundaries, particularly ones that can mean the difference between life and death, then they might need to hold off on driving on their own.
If your teen constantly has to be reminded even about simple things, such as household chores, it’s unlikely they’re ready for all that comes with being on the road.
Is Your Teen Able to Think Long-Term?
It’s not abnormal for teens to think about their own wants and needs above others and to be lacking in the ability to think long-term. It can come with the age, and things like empathy and long-term thinking may come with maturity. However, if your teen isn’t great with these concepts currently, they might not be ready to drive.
It’s important teens be able to look outside of what they want at the moment—for example, to post a selfie while driving—and consider long-term cause and effect and potential consequences of their actions.
Is Your Teen Easily Swayed by Others?
If your teen is an independent thinker and doesn’t necessarily go with the pack, that can be a good indicator of driving readiness. On the other hand, if your teen is influenced quite a bit by peer pressure and fitting in, now might not be the time for them to get their license.
Does Your Teen Use Substances?
Teen substance abuse can be a worry on its own, but if you think your teen is potentially using drugs or alcohol, even infrequently, you should definitely rethink whether they get their license. When it comes to drugs and alcohol with teens and driving, it should be a zero-tolerance issue. If you suspect your teen has ever been under the influence, it may be wise to hold off on any driving privileges.
Finally, think about how your teen behaves when he or she is a passenger with you. Do they wear their seatbelt at all times, or do they have to be reminded? Are they looking at what’s going on and rather vigilant or are they absorbed by their phone? Of course, you’re not going to be as aware when you’re a passenger as when you’re a driver, but things like seat belt usage are important indicators of future driving safety.