A parent teen driving contract, or vehicle use agreement, is simply a document that outlines the responsibilities and privileges of both the parents (or other guardians) and the new teen driver.
Sometimes clear communication takes the written word. While, your teen may feel that a parenting contract isn’t necessary, often many arguments and bad feelings could have been prevented if a parenting contract had been used. Help your teen think of these as more of an action plan, where their say is important enough to be written down.
Why have one?
Driving is a high-risk activity; this is especially true for novice drivers who have had, by definition, limited exposure to the physical and mental experience necessary to safely navigate our highways.
Parents obviously play a pivotal role in helping their teens learn to lower risk as much as possible. You can do this by modeling good habits yourself, by providing ample practice time and by setting clear expectations for behavior once your teen has earned the privilege of driving on their own. A parent-teen driving agreement, or contract, is an excellent way to establish and record those expectations.
What should or should not be included?
A good agreement will, for both teens and parents:
- Explain privileges
- Detail responsibilities
- Clearly outline consequences if responsibilities are not met
- Be customizable to fit the specific, unique situation of each family
Avoid agreements that:
- Are one-sided (e.g., only listing responsibilities for the teen)
- Include requirements that are unrealistic, immeasurable, or unenforceable
If possible, providing rationales, right in the document, for the various responsibilities is great; this can serve as a reminder that the rules exist to promote safety and not just to curtail a young driver’s new-found freedom.
Next time we will give you ideas on writing one of your own.
– Josh Szurszewski