As you know, when teens start to drive, I am a huge advocate for parent - teen driving contracts. I wrote my own contracts for my boys but I recently found a website that all parents who are getting ready to have teen drivers need to be aware of.
Injuries from motor vehicle crashes are the #1 cause of death for teens in the United States. Studies have shown that having limits and boundaries in place for new drivers reduces the number of motor vehicle accidents that new drivers experience. Although not all states have “graduated driver’s licenses”, all parents can have discussions about the privilege and responsibility of driving and set their own guidelines for their new teen driver.
The website www.youngdriverparenting.org was developed by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and is an interactive site for both parent and teen. The program is entitled “Checkpoints”. The website includes teen driving statistics to help parents keep their teen drivers safe as well as giving information about state-specific teen driving laws.
The site has a great interactive component to help parents create their own parent-teen driving “contract” that addresses such things as teen driving hours, number of passengers allowed, and boundaries for driving. These parameters can be modified as the teen becomes more experienced and meets the “checkpoints” that were agreed to. It is a great site as it not only gives you a template for the agreement, but sends emails as the allotted amount of time has passed for each step of the contract. You don’t have to remember what you and your teen agreed to, they email you and then you and your child can revisit the agreement and expand it over time as your driver becomes more experienced.
Instead of handing out my “dog eared” old driving contracts that I wrote for my boys, I am now going to send my patients to this site (which is also being sustained by the American Academy of Pediatrics).
Teen drivers whose parents are actively involved in monitoring their driving are not only less risky drivers but know ahead of time what their parent’s expectations are. Having a teen involved proactively with driving rules is far preferable to regretting that limits, boundaries and parental rules were not discussed prior to allowing your new driver on the road.
The website is not only free it is also evidence based, and within 5 - 10 minutes of reviewing the site a family is set to go with their own checkpoint agreement. Here’s to teen driver safety!