A teenage driver is a new driver. A parent-teen driving contract can help set up expectations and requirements that everyone agrees on.
Driving a car is a big responsibility. So much can potentially go wrong when driving, and the decisions you make before and during your driving can really affect the outcome.
I have long looked forward to my kids being able to drive independently. Not all parents get excited; some are very nervous. For me, it was a milestone I very much looked forward to. Even just having my son be able to take himself to and from his activities was going to be life-changing, not to mention him being able to help with siblings.
Despite my excitement, I recognized that this was a huge responsibility and I needed to make sure that my son would use safe driving practices.
Brayden is about the most responsible person I know, adults included; however, I felt a parent teen driving contract would be a good idea.
- Why Have a Parent Teen Driving Contract
- What to Include in a Teen Driving Contract
- Expectations on Obeying the Law
- Expectations for Restitution if Needed
- Expectations on Maintenance of the Vehicle
- Specific Family Rules You Have
- A Safe Passage Clause
- Consequences for Expectations not Met
- Gas Money Plans
- Printable Teen Driving Contract
- Related Posts
Why Have a Parent Teen Driving Contract
Presenting a contract can seem a little overkill. It can even seem a little offensive if your teen has proven to be a good teen driver and is responsible in general in life.
Way back when Brayden was in fifth grade, during the maturation presentation, part of what the health department talked about was the immense influence parents have on their children and the decisions they make, even as teenagers.
In this presentation, they discussed how teens are far less likely to abuse substances if they know their parents disapprove.
I figured this same influence can apply in expectations for driving. If your teen knows what you expect, clearly, then he is more likely to make wise decisions when faced with the option.
I have also been a parent long enough to fully understand that what seems obvious to us as adults is not always obvious to children. We often assume children just understand what is and isn’t okay to do, from social skills to making choices.
If I want my child to definitely follow all traffic laws, make wise decisions when driving with friends, and take care of the vehicle, then I needed to be sure these things were outlined.
I wanted consequences for poor decisions to be outlined and understood.
I wanted to make sure that my husband and I were on the same page and had thought through what our expectations even were.
I also always want to be an easy out for my kids if needed. If a friend refuses to wear a seat belt, my child can say, “Hey, if you don’t wear your seatbelt, my parents won’t let me drive anymore. I don’t want that to happen. You need to wear it.”
I am happy to be the bad guy or scapegoat if needed to help keep everyone safe and obeying the law.
What to Include in a Teen Driving Contract
When creating your teen driving contract (and you can just use the one I made, linked below), here are some things to make sure you include.
Expectations on Obeying the Law
I wanted to make it clear that my expectation was that the law be obeyed. I listed out things like to follow the speed limit, wear a seat belt, do not text while driving or even use a cell phone, and even to not drink and drive.
My husband wasn’t sure if we should include the drinking because that isn’t something we would expect Brayden to do and we have clear expectations about that already.
I felt it was important to just be clear on all expectations. Again, I am thinking about studies that have been done that show parental expectations do indeed affect decisions teens make.
Expectations for Restitution if Needed
I wanted to be clear on what we expected if my teen got a speeding ticket or was in an accident. Those things cost money, both immediately and with increased insurance costs.
I feel like knowing you will have to pay the ticket and/or the increase in rates for car insurance, you are more likely to be careful about your driving.
Expectations on Maintenance of the Vehicle
If you care about your teen making sure the car is clean or getting low on gas, be sure to communicate what the expectations are. How involved does your teen need to be in the maintenance of the car?
This can change over time. You might start with small expectations and add those on as your teen gets older. We are raising future adults, so it is good for you child to know what needs to be maintained and how to make sure that happens.
Specific Family Rules You Have
We added some of our own house driving rules. These included expectations on curfew, the need to let parents know where you will be, and communicating plans.
We also included expectations like adjusting things before driving the car.
We included information on taking siblings places, using earbuds, racing, and friends driving the car (most insurance companies will not cover damages caused by people not insured on the car.
A Safe Passage Clause
People make mistakes. Your teen needs to know if a mistake is made, you will be there for your child. You don’t want them afraid to turn to you in a time of need.
Consequences for Expectations not Met
What will the consequences be if and when the rules outlined in the contract are broken? Will driving privileges be revoked? Make that clear.
Gas Money Plans
Who is paying for gas money? For our family, we are paying for any gas we would spend if we were driving him places ourselves. We will also pay if he drives his siblings places.
Printable Teen Driving Contract
Here is a link to a free copy of my teen driving contract.
It is important for it to be clear that driving is a privilege, not a right. With it comes the requirement for responsibility. Setting clear expectations helps everyone be on the same page. Parent-teen driving agreements are a great way to achieve this.