Driving a Car
Ask any teenager — a car is the “freedom machine.” No longer dependent on parents to drive them where they want to go, when they want to go, being able to drive gives teens the freedom to “drive” their own lives.
For the young person to rein in all that freedom so it is not abused to harmful cost to self or others takes enormous attention, judgment, and responsibility. It takes being reminded that a car is not a toy to have fun with, it is a transportation device for getting around.
The best way for parents to consider whether they want their teenager to drive is to evaluate if their son or daughter is mentally and emotionally equipped to manage the worst degree of risk that driving brings.
Is Your Teen Ready?
Parents should ask themselves, “In our judgment, is our teenager sufficiently mature to be entrusted with the freedom to use a potentially deadly weapon?” At worst, they are turning their teenager loose on the world with an instrument of destruction.
If their son or daughter shows signs of only being out for a good time and has a record of acting impulsively, heedless of consequences, parents should not allow this young person behind the wheel of a car. Driving is a privilege, not a right.
Just because the teen has reached the legal driving age does not mean parents are now under some social obligation to let their teenager drive. You should decide your teenager's readiness to drive based on how she is handling other aspects of her life. It is your responsibility to make this determination.
Responsible parents do not allow a teenager with a record of irresponsibility, who shows no signs of changing, to drive at any adolescent age.
The Teen's Responsibilities
Now come the arguments, because having this new freedom inspires desire for more. “What difference can two hours make, whether I'm in at midnight or at two? Nothing can happen to me at two that can't happen to me at twelve.” Yes it can. Consider the risk of accidents.
The later your teenager stays out, the more likely he or she will encounter a drunk driver, or someone sleepy or asleep at the wheel on the road. The later people stay up and stay out, the more substance use and fatigue are likely to affect choices they make. Your teenager's driving curfew is up to you.
Continuing to allow your teenager to drive depends on his safe driving record. Any moving or other violations will cause you to reevaluate. And any costs arising from such violations will be your teenager's to pay.
In general, having your teenager invest money he's earned to support some of the monthly financing payment (if you've bought him a car), insurance, maintenance, inspection fee, license fees, and gas that are all required for operating a car is helpful. Assuming part of these responsibilities can cause the teenager to appreciate how expensive this freedom is, and to drive carefully so more expenses from irresponsible driving are not incurred.