Guidelines to Contract

The contract is coming next. But, first this. There is a lot to read here but, trust me, it's really important. Please read it. Then read it again. 

  • You must be willing to take the stance that you will NOT ALLOW THE TEEN TO DRIVE INDEPENDENTLY until contract is signed. 

  • Use the model contract as a starting point. You will likely want make changes to suit your particular situation. Feedback from parents suggests that the most common modification made to the contract is to tie driving privileges to school grades.  Read here why I don't recommend that.

  • Check with your state regarding it's legal restrictions on new drivers.  Make sure your contract is consistent with your local laws (or stricter!)
  • Once signed, set a date to review and revise the agreement after a designated period of driving has passed.  I'd suggest 4 to 6 weeks.  On this review date, go through the agreement with the teenager and make changes as needed. This review period will be an opportunity to relax the agreement a bit if the teenager has done well with his or her driving. It is also an opportunity to tighten the agreement if the teenager has not done well.

  • If at some point you pull your child's independent driving privilege, allow, encourage, even require him or her to continue to drive WITH YOU IN THE CAR PROVIDING supervision.  In other words, revert to Learner's Permit mode!
  • IMPORTANT:  There's a problem parents have to work through when their teen driver breaks a rule in the contract.  Like many parenting dilemmas, there's no easy answer.
Here's the problem:  On the one hand, if I am the parent and I believe my child has been reckless in his driving and he's violated one of the more serious rules I have about driving, I need to take him off the road for awhile. Makes sense.

On the other hand, research tells us, pretty conclusively, that the way new drivers become better is by gaining driving experience.  Somewhat surprisingly, the research says that, after the initial period of being taught to drive by parents, it is the teenager driving alone, which gives the experience he or she needs to become a safer and more competent driver.  So, that creates a downside to taking the teenager driver off the road.  When he or she is not driving, he or she is not accumulating that critical driving experience.

That is why it IS possible for a parent to be too strict and too punitive in enforcing driving rules.  It's why it is important not to yield to the temptation to take the young driver's driving privileges away for longer periods, when other less severe measures might be adequate. Maybe a warning for the first violation of some of the less critical rules.  Perhaps two weeks off the road instead of two months.  Don't fall into the trap of thinking that the longer driving privileges are pulled the better and the safer.  That's not necessarily the case.

Do you have teenagers who are already driving?  IS IT TOO LATE to do a contract?  (Answer:  No.)

A NOTE ON PARENT MOTIVATION:

Remind yourself everyday what is at stake. Remind yourself that you want to do all you can to prevent a disaster. There is nothing more dangerous to your teenager than your teenager's driving.

  •  REMEMBER THIS SIMPLE METHOD FOR STAYING MOTIVATED:

REMIND YOURSELF WHAT IS AT STAKE!


Next




Download this reminder card. Put it on your refrigerator. 
And on the dashboard.  Bathroom mirror. Whatever.

Key Points to the Contract

KEY POINTS!

OBEY THE LAW
DRIVE ONLY WITH PERMISSION
SEAT BELTS
PASSENGERS ARE LIMITED
NO CELL PHONE USE WHILE DRIVING
PARENTS MUST KNOW WHERE I AM
DON’T LEAVE SCENE OF ACCIDENT
NO ALCOHOL, DRUGS, OR TOBACCO
NO EATING


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Dale Wisely,
Apr 2, 2012, 12:43 PM