Driving Me Crazy

By Julia Price

May 29, 2019 4 min read

Do you remember the feeling of sitting in the car for the first time by yourself, closing the door, latching your seatbelt, turning on the ignition and cautiously stepping on the gas? Were you scared? Excited? Experiencing true freedom for the first time? For many teenagers, the first time they sit behind the wheel by themselves can be their first taste of independence.

While this may be a scheduling relief to parents who are used to driving their kids to various sports, theater and afterschool activities, it can also breed a high level of stress. Parents worry about their children taking on this new responsibility, especially in these days of constant texting and cellphone usage -- from their own children and from distracted drivers on the road.

However, parents can support their children with clear communication on the right temperament to approach almost any situation. They should have thorough conversations with these new drivers about remaining calm and practicing defensive driving methods such as learning to increase their awareness and anticipate the driving behaviors of others on the road.

Student driving courses and classes are offered to support new drivers (or drivers who might need a refresher), by properly educating them on how to handle insurance situations in case of accidents in the future. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, taking a multistage driver's license course can decrease the chance of getting into an accident by 50 percent.

Educating first-time drivers on the ins and outs of car insurance can alleviate more anxiety from an already stressful situation. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, as an added incentive to do well in school, many insurance companies are willing to give young drivers discounts for achieving good grades and completing additional driving education classes.

After being educated on best driving methods, it's important to allow teen drivers chance to enjoy the freedom of a car. Especially with all the afterschool activities available, kids need time to decompress with some solo time. This could help these new drivers be more present when they arrive back home for time with the family. And if they are in charge of covering the costs of their car such as gas, insurance and repairs, it may also encourage teen to get a job earlier than they might have otherwise.

When it comes to any concerns parents may have about whether having a license will create more distance between them and their teenager, remember that the parents always have the final say and can set conditions and driving rules. If the new driver bends these rules, then he or she might risk losing the privilege of driving for a set amount of time. Psychology Today states that it's completely normal for adolescents to begin withdrawing from their family and parents during this phase of life. Handing over the keys to the car to a teenager will won't make or break familial relationships.

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