After The License: The Intermediate Period
After teens pass the behind-the-wheel driving test and get their long awaited license, some may incorrectly believe they are equally skilled as other “licensed” drivers. This makes it difficult for teens to understand why certain activities are restricted during the early months of licensure. Consider framing the intermediate period of Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) as a learner permit “plus” not a full license “minus.” By passing the behind-the-wheel test, teens have demonstrated that they are ready to practice independently. The intermediate period of GDL establishes a supportive framework for them to continue to learn without the additional pressures and dangers associated with full licensure.
Here are some other practical tips for parents to help their teen drivers transition from a supervised learner to an independent learner:
- Co-develop house rules. Work with your teen to establish house rules for driving and consequences for not following them. Many families use GDL as a guide, but family rules can and should be modified to accommodate your teen’s growing maturity and competence. Your teen should know that the rules are about safety, not control.
- Limit the keys. According to CHOP research, teens with primary access to a vehicle were more than twice as likely to crash in the prior year compared with teens who share a car with family members. Having to ask to use the car also gives your teen the opportunity to share his plans, where he’s going and when he will be back.
- Encourage two-way communication. To keep your teen safe, setting rules, asking questions and watching closely, sometimes called “monitoring,” is important but not always enough. Parents also get their knowledge by their teen’s voluntary disclosure. How to get your teen to tell you what you need to know when you need to know it? Start early to establish trust. When setting rules, your teen wants to hear and deserves the reasons for the rules -- that they are in place for safety, not to control his or her life. Listen and be responsive to your teen’s concerns, which are often quite practical. Your teen is at a developmental stage where craving independence is the norm. You can reward responsible behavior with increased privileges. Among your teen’s friends, be the scapegoat for your teen’s safety-oriented choices. Watch this video for tips to keep your teen talking.
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