Do Parents Need a Driving Contract with Their Teen?
Prior to our first son turning 16, our insurance company sent us a driving contract for us to execute with him before we let him loose on the streets. It had not occurred to us to have a contract with our son covering our expectations of him in order to have the privilege of driving. The more my husband and I read the contract and thought about this new privilege, the more we were convinced we did need to make a written contract with him.
· Driving is a potentially dangerous activity with adult responsibilities and consequences. The privilege should not be given or taken lightly.
· Driving is not free. We needed a clear understanding between us of what costs we planned to cover and what costs he was expected to cover.
· A vehicle requires maintenance. We wanted him to understand what our expectations were regarding maintaining his vehicle.
· Allowing another to ride in your vehicle involves assumption of liability for that passenger’s safety.
· The signing of the contract ceremonially hands over the keys. It emphasizes the seriousness of the new endeavor.
· It has become a fun family tradition for us to take our new driver out for dinner and sign it with him. (Have the ceremony a few days before the driver’s test. Once they get that license it will be hard to keep their attention.)
The contract provided by the insurance company was a start for the contract we wrote. Their contract did not completely cover every point we wanted to emphasize and some of their contract was not relevant to our family.
This is the contract we wrote:
Between ___(mom)___, _____(Dad)___ and ___(teen)__
Understand that it is only because we love you and are concerned for your safety and the safety of others that we ask you to enter into this agreement with us. We are extremely proud of you and are excited for you as you take on this very adult responsibility.
I, ___(teen)________, promise to NEVER:
· Text while driving. Ever.
· Drive without wearing my seatbelt and I will require all my passengers to wear theirs.
· Ride in a vehicle where the driver has consumed alcohol or illegal substances or prescription drugs that are not theirs.
· Use my cell phone for any purpose while driving. If I need to make a call, I will pull over. I will not answer my cell phone while driving.
· Engage in distracting behaviors, like eating, grooming, or adjusting the radio/cell phone music while driving.
· Drive with more passengers than allowed by law.
· Drive someone else’s vehicle or allow someone to drive mine unless it is an absolute emergency. (If possible at all, call Mom or Dad first.)
I, ___(teen)_________, promise to:
· Abide by all traffic laws and signs.
· Check and adjust my seat, rearview, and side mirrors before driving.
· Take proper care of my vehicle, which includes:
Maintaining a least a quarter tank of gas at all times.
Changing the oil at the proper intervals.
Notifying Mom or Dad immediately if any warning lights appear.
Keeping the vehicle clean inside and out.
· Accept the adult consequences for any mistakes I may make while driving. Adult responsibilities come with adult consequences. Excuses will not change the consequences. All traffic tickets or damages caused by me to any vehicle I am driving and damages to any property belonging to someone else is my sole responsibility. This responsibility includes any increase in insurance costs caused by a mistake on my part.
· Be willing to (and with a good attitude) help my family by driving __(siblings)__ to activities or running errands for my family when asked.
Temporary restrictions (Mom and Dad will sign off on these when they feel they are no longer necessary.)
· I will text Mom or Dad my location and driving intentions. Mom and Dad need to know where I am and my vehicle are at all times. (e.g. Text when I arrive at and leave school, text when I leave one location and go to another.)
· I will not enter any highway system without specific permission from Mom or Dad. (A highway is any road with on/off ramps, speeds limits over 50 mph, no stoplights, etc.)
I, ______(teen)__________, understand that the consumption or use of alcohol, illegal substances, tobacco, or prescription drugs that are not prescribed for me will result in the immediate revocation of my driving privileges, as well as other consequences that are deemed necessary. I, __________(teen)_____, also understand that driving is a privilege and that none of the cars owned by our family fully belongs to me. This contract is not to be considered an exhaustive list of every responsibility and may be updated or amended as necessary.
We, ___(Mom and Dad)_____, agree to allow ________(teen)_________ to have the privilege of driving under the agreement stated in this contract!
Signed and dated,