How do you set limits on driving for your teen?

Driving is a great milestone of independence for your teen -- and a pretty scary time for you. The best way to set limits on your teen's driving is to start discussing your driving rules before your teen is ready to get behind the wheel. This way, your teen will already have realistic expectations about what driving will mean to him/her, in addition to the general excitement of being able to drive. The other valuable goal achieved by discussing your driving limits with your teen early is that you'll have to sit and think about what your driving rules are. Based on research about teen driving, some good rules to keep in mind are:

  • Drive only during the day.
  • Always wear a seatbelt and have passengers wear theirs, too.
  • No texting or using a cellphone while driving.
  • No driving with other teenage passengers.
  • You might also want to refresh your knowledge of your state's driving laws as you prepare your driving rules for your teen.

Assuming you've already started talking with your teen about your driving rules, you can then create an actual contract once your teen gets to the learner's permit stage. The contract can cover issues such as which of the family cars your teen will be allowed to drive, what his/her responsibility is to keep the car clean and in good condition, when your teen can and cannot drive, commitment to following all driving and safety laws and a promise not to drive under the influence or use electronics while driving. Your contract should also include the consequences if he/she doesn't comply with your rules. Once you and your teen have reviewed and signed the driving contract, keep it posted in a common area where you'll both see it daily (say, on the refrigerator). Finally, the best way to enforce the driving rules with your teen is to model your own good driving behavior.