Before your teen asks you about getting a driver’s license, parents can feel more comfortable addressing the issue if you consider the following six ways to know if your teen is ready to drive.
1. Good judgment is important. – Is your teen generally responsible? Does he or she show good judgment? This is important because of the necessity to make sound decisions during unpredictable situations that occur while driving – either from other drivers, passengers, pedestrians or other sources. If your teen lacks good judgment, experts recommend that you delay your teen getting a driver’s license until he or she shows more signs of maturity. If you can delay your teen’s driving until 17 or 18 instead of 16, this can make a huge difference.
2. Ability to resist peer pressure. – Can your teen resist peer pressure? Statistics of teens drinking and driving should be enough to frighten you. This is all the more reason why you want to ensure your child is able to resist challenges to drink and drive, to drive fast, take chances, stay out past curfew, and do other things that put your child and others in danger. Check out your teen’s friends. Do they have good standards? Are they responsible? Do they behave well around your teen? If so, your teen probably behave in a similar manner. These are positive indicators that your teen may be ready to drive – if all other factors are appropriate.
3. Willingness to obey state driving laws – and your rules. – How receptive does your teen seem to be about obeying state driving laws? What about your rules? If your teen pledges to abide by the driving laws and your rules – and you believe he or she is sincere – that’s a good start. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in teens. Each year, nearly 6,000 teens are killed and approximately 300,000 are injured in crashes. Become familiar with your state’s graduated licensing system, one of the few things that have been proven to save teen lives.
4. Comfortable behind the wheel. – No doubt your teen has sat behind the wheel already, pretending to be driving, or asking if he or she can back the car out of the garage. The question is does your teen seem comfortable behind the wheel?
5. Understand what safe driving means. – Allstate Foundation research found that teens differentiate “good” and “safe” drivers. Teens consider a “good” disconnect in what teens think safe driving really is. Teens consider a “good” driver one who can handle a car at high speeds, while they believe a “safe” driver obeys all the rules. Which does your teen believe? Far too many teens are killed each year because they drive recklessly. Before you permit your child to get a driver’s license, you should know if he or she understands what safe driving really means.
6. Ability to handle stress. – Along with good judgment, ability to resist peer pressure, willingness to obey driving laws and your rules, understanding what safe driving means and being comfortable behind the wheel, your teen also needs to be able to handle stress. How well does your teen handle anger or fear? These events elicit quick responses that can tell you whether or not your teen is ready to drive.
After going through these six ways to know if your teen is ready to drive, you should have a better idea if now is the time – or if holding off another year or so may be the wiser choice.