With all the recent tragic fatal accidents that involve teens across the country, I thought it would be a good time to remind all parents about teen driving contracts.
As we all know, when a teenager first learns to drive, it can be a parent’s worst nightmare or blessing. All parents worry constantly about their teenage drivers, especially the first time they turn them loose on their own.
That’s why you, the parent, may want to try a new concept. The concept is called teen driver contracts. This is a signed agreement between the new teen driver and the parents or guardians. The contract will hopefully make the process easier and more comfortable for all in-volved parties.
The contract states the obligations and responsibilities the teen or young driver will abide by and honor or risk losing their driving privileges. The contract holds the teen or young driver accountable for his or her actions and cuts down on time-consuming debates about not knowing and “if you’d only told me” excuses.
You may think to yourself, I don’t need a driving contract. Your teen may even tell you that other parents don’t have contracts with their teens, but you need to stick to your guns. A driving contract could save your child’s life or the lives of others. Young drivers need to understand the seriousness of driving and the possible consequences for violating the rules.
• automobile accidents are the leading cause of death in young people.
• teenagers are less experienced, more impulsive, have less developed judgment and are much greater risk of getting involved in car wrecks.
• young drivers have overly casual attitudes about driving or worse, an attitude of driving as an entitled right, as opposed to an earned privilege.
• all parents wish to do everything they can to protect their children. But parents sometimes fail to take teenage driving as seriously as they should. Others recognize the seriousness of the problem but do not address it systematically and firmly.
• parents often resort to lecturing and to vague statements such as “You can drive when you show us you are responsible.” They often are not sure what rules they should establish, how to enforce them and how to communicate them clearly.
A teen driving contract lets the young driver know that you take driving very seriously and that driving is a serious matter. It also prevents unclear rules, confusion about rules and gives parents a way to clarify their thoughts about driving and get them down on paper. The contract also helps with enforcement of the rules. Teenagers’ cloudy and vague memories about initial rules put in place are quickly diminished when a signed and agreed upon contract is brought to the table. It also lets the young driver know the seriousness of signing a binding contract.
In closing, for parents or guardians interested in receiving a teen driving contract, contact Sharon at City Hall at 615-773-6204. The contracts are free of charge.
Kenny Martin is city manager in Mt. Juliet.