Your teenager finally got her driver's license. The freedom is exciting (and terrifying), for everyone involved. As the parent, the "terrifying" aspect is for a variety of reasons - the testing of limits, the responsibility, their safety. Sure, not having to chauffer her to and from soccer/play rehearsal/band practice has its upside, but the true reality of a new teenage driver is a mixed bag for everyone.
There are some things you should do to prepare yourself (and your teen) for life with a new driver.
Reiterate the risks of distracted driving.
Yes, she will probably tell you "I know, mom" with that irritated tone, but now is the time to nag. Adults have a hard enough time understanding that even a split second glance at a text message could cause a major accident, so it's no surprise that teens don't heed this advice.
There are many apps that can help with this mission, including ones that block certain cell services in cars, like texting. There are a lot of safe driving apps out there - find one that works best for your teen.
Prepare her for the worst.
You might spend a lot of time talking to your teen about how to avoid getting into an accident altogether, but have you ever mentioned what to do, or not do, if they are in an accident - even a minor one?
After the essentials, like calling you, there are some other things that are important to remember.
1. First, don't admit guilt or even express apologies - as hard as that may be. Any admission of guilt could be used against your teen down the road. Even if they weren't actually at fault.
2. It's also important to remember not to speak to anyone's insurance company. They might try to speak to your child or yourself right away to work out some type of settlement, but it's best not to take any initial offers.
3. Remind your teen to take pictures of the scene, the cars and any possible damage.
4. Seek medical assistance immediately to ensure that there are not any underlying injuries, even if she seems ok.
5. If there are injuries, it's critical to call an experienced attorney right away.
Don't skimp on car insurance.
Yes, more drivers in the house means it's more expensive to insure everyone - especially a teenager. You might be tempted to cut corners by saving money on the deductible or not getting uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. But this is a big mistake that could ultimately cost you much more.
The Insurance Information Institute estimates that almost 16 percent of Kentucky drivers are uninsured. If you are injured in an accident by an uninsured driver, you will be grateful for the foresight.
While it's easy to focus on some of the risks of having a teen driver, it's also a very positive time. It's a time your child will have the opportunity to showcase all of the lessons you've taught her on responsibility, safety and making good choices.