Teen DriverIt can be terrifying to a parent to hand over the keys to the car. Oftentimes, parents sign a contract with their teen, holding them accountable for good behavior. (See the O’Sullivan Parent/Teen Driver contract here.)

It may seem like Parenting 101, but you need to have open communication with your teen regarding their driving habits and responsibilities. Below, you’ll find the Top 5 topics you should discuss with your teen driver before handing over the keys.

  1. SAFE HABITS IN THE CAR
  • Always wear a seat belt and make your passengers wear seat belts.
  • Obey all traffic laws and posted signs.
  • Never speed or drive aggressively.
  • Keep both hands on the wheel.
  • Do not drive in adverse weather.
  1. CELL PHONES, FOOD AND MUSIC
  • Never use your cell phone while the car is running. This includes talking, texting and even GPS usage. Pull over to call, text, or to figure out where you are.
  • Do not use earphones or mp3 players in the car.
  • Do not eat while you are driving.
  1. DRUGS AND ALCOHOL
  • Never drive if you have used drugs or alcohol.
  • Never allow drugs or alcohol into your car.
  • Never allow passengers who have used drugs or alcohol into your car.
  • Never get into another car with a driver who has used drugs or alcohol.
  • Never get into another car where drugs or alcohol are present.
  1. BE A GOOD FRIEND
  • When you’re in the car with another teen driver, speak up when you notice unsafe behavior! There is a good chance that your friend just wants your “permission” to be safe without trying to impress you.
  • Let your friends know that you admire safe driving habits.
  1. CALL ME
  • Call home if you are concerned for your safety as a driver or as a passenger. (I promise not to ask embarrassing questions in front of your friends.)

You might even plan a “code” for your teen to use if he or she is in an unsafe situation but doesn’t want to “rat out” a friend. For example, “Mom, I feel really sick. Too sick to drive. Can you come get me?” Giving your teen a way out of unsafe situations is your job as a parent. But make sure not to embarrass your teen in these situations – if you do embarrass your teen, he or she won’t call you the next time!