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"How's my driving? Call my parents at..." Teach your kid to be a responsible driver

Feb. 14, 2017 at midnight

As a parent, one of your top priorities is your kids' safety. You childproofed your home and bought a car seat when they were babies, made them wear helmets to ride their bikes when they grew up, and taught them not to talk to strangers or dive into the shallow end of the pool or run around the house while holding a pair of scissors. You did everything you could to make sure that your kids stay safe. Sometimes, they don't like your strict rules. But deep inside they know: YOU know what's best for them.

Now that your kid is all grown up and about to drive their own car, what can you do to make sure that they (and everyone else on the road) remain safe? After all, the leading cause of death among U.S. teenagers is motor vehicle accidents. Here are a few ways.

First, remind your child that driving a car is a privilege and not a right and that it can be taken away if certain conditions aren't met. For example, your child must maintain a good average in school, complete a list of household chores every week, and keep a straight driving record in order to keep their driving privileges. Associating school and house-related responsibilities with driving will teach your child to become a responsible driver.

You can also set a probation period for your child while they complete driver's education as required by the state. During this probation period, they can only drive to specific places (e.g. school, grocery store, home) and cannot let friends join them in the car while they drive. Prohibit any cell phone calling or texting while driving the car. If your place of residence doesn't require driver's ed, then you can decide on how long the probation period should be. You can also consider enrolling your child into a driver’s ed program even if it isn’t required by the state in which you live.

Another way to teach your child about responsibility is to place a bumper sticker that says "How's my driving? Call my parents at: (###)###-####." This way, your child knows that you are watching them constantly, even when they're not at home. Some parents even employ new technology that can be added to vehicles which allow you to track how they drive and where they are going. They are more likely to follow road regulations if they know there may be consequences should they misbehave while driving.

Lastly, if you're planning to buy a new car for your child, you might want to consider getting them a used car instead. Remember, your kid is a new driver, so the chances of minor bumps and scrapes are highly likely. If you buy them a new car, the costs of repair will be catastrophic, even if the damage is small. The smartest solution to avoiding collision coverage and other high repair costs is to get them an old but safe model. It doesn't have to be an ugly clunker that your kid will be embarrassed to drive in. To help you out, Forbes has listed 21 of the safest used cars for teen drivers under $12,000, and all of them look good! Included in this list is Ford Fusion (models 2010 or later, starts at $9,530), Chevrolet Malibu (models 2010 or later, starts at $10,217), and Hyundai Sonata (models 2011 or later, starts at $11,851).

Driving is a gift that you, as a parent, are giving generously to your child. However, with great privilege comes great responsibilities, which you should teach your kid before letting them loose on the road. If you follow the tips mentioned above, you can avoid accident-related costs. More importantly, these tips will keep your child safe while on the road.


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