Many parents experience the agonizing moment when their kids ask if they can borrow the car for themselves for the first time. So what do you say? How do you know if your child is ready to take on that responsibility (and if you’re ready to take on the added insurance costs)? Here are a few questions you should ask yourself before letting your child go driving alone on their first solo ride:
Does your child take accountability for their actions? Are they aware of what they’re responsible for and do they make every effort to meet those responsibilities? Do you feel comfortable leaving your child alone for extended periods of time when you’re not home (a weekend trip away, for instance)? Have they ever given you a reason to doubt their maturity?
Reasons for Wanting to Drive
Do they enjoy the freedom that comes with driving or are they just pushing ahead because of peer pressure/because all their friends do? Do they actually need the car to get to school/work other places? Do you live in a place with convenient/reliable public transportation or is a car the only option for getting to and from places?
Have you talked to your child at length about their feelings behind the wheel? Do they truly seem prepared and ready enough to take on such a big responsibility? Do they have anxiety or stress related to driving that might restrict them or effect how well they respond to potential accidents or emergencies on the road?
Past Driving Experience
Day driving is one thing, but have they driven at night time? If you live in a climate with drastically differing seasonal weather, have they driven through rain/snow/sleet etc? Have they driven in heavy rush hour traffic or through construction zones? Do they know how to adapt their driving based on the situation at hand?
In the times you’ve been in the car with them, are you impressed by how well they check their mirrors and their blindspots? Do they stick to the speed limit? Do they leave a safe buffer distance between them and the car in front of them? Are they mindful of pedestrians and other cars at intersections?
Are they likely to get distracted while driving? Do they understand how dangerous it is to text while driving or to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs? Can you honestly say that you trust them not to intentionally do anything while driving alone that might cause an accident? Do you trust them to drive with their friends and not get into any accidents or potential fender benders?
Driving under Pressure
Whether it’s peer pressure from a friend or a driver with road rage sitting directly behind them at a light, are they confident enough in themselves and their driving abilities to ignore anyone trying to encourage them or force them into making unsafe moves when driving alone?