Because they are still learning and not as skilled as other drivers, newly licensed teens benefit from having initial limitations on driving privileges. The primary benefit is less risk of crashing. This approach has been proven effective by helping teen drivers gain experience in lower-risk driving situations. Creating a parent-teen driving contract or parent-teen driving agreement may help a family decide on rules for using the family car.
Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws can be used as a guide for developing a parent-teen driving contract or parent-teen driving agreement. Parents and teens need to work together to set clear rules for driving without adult supervision. By jointly setting house driving rules, teens are more likely to follow them.
Coming to agreement on a list of household driving rules will not only keep teens safe, but also their passengers and other road users. Some of these rules are nonnegotiable, such as no cell phone use while driving and always wearing a seat belt. Others can be modified over time, such as getting home at 8 p.m. instead of 6 p.m. As teens gain experience and maturity, new driving privileges may be introduced. Likewise, when teens do not follow the rules within the parent-teen driving agreement or parent-teen driving contract, driving privileges can be reduced.
Here are some examples of parent-teen driving contracts and parent-teen driving agreements from trusted sources:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Parent/Teen Agreement
- Checkpoints Parent/Teen Agreement
- American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Parent/Teen Agreement
- AAA Parent-Teen Driving Agreement
- National Safety Council New Driver Deal
- Zero Fatalities Parent/Teen Driving Agreement
Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) also offers a Contract for Life that promises the teen, both as driver or passenger, will call home for a safe ride instead of getting into a car when the driver could be intoxicated, high, or tired, which is very dangerous.
Some families may decide not to use a parent-teen driving contract or parent-teen driving agreement when setting house driving rules. That’s okay. What’s important is restricting driving privileges when teens are newly licensed and making sure that everyone in the family knows how to support them. Parents know their teens best.
Watch this video for tips on how to talk to your teen: