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When your teen starts driving, the first thing you should do is set rules and expectations for your teen. There are some basic questions you should discuss with your teen:
A written document, commonly called a Parent-Teen Contract or Parent-Teen Agreement, is the best way to ensure the rules are understood and followed. Our version is called the New Driver Deal. It contains restrictions, privileges, rules and consequences. It is a reference, making it hard for your teen—or you—to “forget” or bend the rules. It’s a big help when the inevitable request for an exception arises. If and when that exception is granted, it helps ensure that it stays an exception and not a rule.
The contract is meant to be a flexible, living document. No rule or privilege should be set in stone. As your teen gains experience, you'll want to give them more responsibility. On the other hand, if your teen isn't following the rules, you might need to remove some privileges and strengthen some restrictions. For this reason, we recommend that you revisit your Deal regularly. Chose a review period that works best for your family and your teen driver's skill and experience. It might be every month, every three months, or maybe even 6 months. The main point is to not forget about it. It might seem silly, but think of this as you would any other contract, with binding terms and conditions. Don't shove it into the bottom of a drawer; keep it handy where everyone can get to it easily—be it a print out on the fridge or a PDF in cloud storage.
Your New Driver Deal can also include financial issues such as refuelling and insurace costs, maintenance and a schedule for sharing the car with the rest of the family. These aren't really safety issues, but they do reinforce the idea that driving is a privilege that comes with responsibility. These items are optional, so you should mold the Deal to fit your family’s needs. But remember to keep it simple and focused on the most important issue: your teen's driving safety.
DriveitHOME™ is an initiative of the National Safety Council, designed by and for parents of newly licensed teen drivers. DriveitHOME™ offers free resources parents can use to help their teen build experience to become safer drivers.