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A Driver’s License is Not Enough: Teen Driving Contracts

Your teenager has just gotten their driver’s permit and you want to make sure that they will be a safe and competent driver. That means taking the appropriate steps—including a great driver’s ed class, following your state’s graduated driver’s licensing rules (GDL), and doing a fantastic job of coaching your teenager.

What now?

It’s time for the parent-teen driving contract: a driving agreement between you and your teen that lays out the driving rules and consequences for your teen. Here are some tips about driving contracts for new drivers, plus a link to a recommended teen driving contract you can download today.

4 Keys to a Successful Teen Driving Contract:

1. Have some baseline rules.

The driving contract for new drivers should include baseline rules to discourage behaviors that lead to accident and injury or death. These behaviors should include never driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, never using a cell phone while driving, never speeding, and always wearing a seatbelt.

2. Include consequences.

The teen driving contract should also include specific consequences for violating the rules. Parents must be willing to enforce the rules in the teen driving contract. Otherwise your teenager will have no real incentive to follow them. Making the consequences specific—you will lose access to the car for a week, if … —is helpful. That way, everyone will be on the same page about what will happen if the rules are broken.

3. Always offer a “Safe Passage” clause.

Parents should institute a “safe-passage” clause in their contract. If they are ever concerned about getting into a car, as a driver or a passenger, you will pick them up. No questions asked. Save the discussion for the next morning or, better, yet several days later.

4. Be willing to enforce the contract.

The effectiveness of the teen driver contract directly correlates to your enforcement of it. These kinds of rules encourage teenagers to take the responsibility of driving seriously, while also helping them resist peer pressure.

Click here to download a sample Driving Agreement recommended by the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics.