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Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Teens, Preteens, & Young Adults > Teens Driving Cars
Learning to Drive
When Should Teens Start Driving?
Our teen is not yet old enough to drive, however, we need a new car and are considering what might work best for our current needs (a crossover of some sort) as well as what our son might be using in a few short years as his first car to drive. (Our second car is a small sedan, so that is also a possibility)What did your teen learn to drive in? If you could rewind, (and you needed to get a new car anyway) would you change the type of car that gave your kid a taste of the open road? Thanks! Staring at 16
You might like to look at the AAA parent/teen driving agreement. It's a start for a good conversation. http://www.aaa.com/automotive/TrafficSafety/parent-teen-driving-agreement.pdf My own mom put a sobering sticker on the dashboard of her car that said, ''You are driving a lethal weapon.''
Just FYI, our high school kids did not get to drive our family cars unless they paid the car insurance increase they caused. One chose to, one chose not to. When they turned 18, they each got their own ''nonowner liability insurance'' (which we paid through college), and when they moved out, they were excluded from our car insurance policy. Hope that helps some.
My son is going to take is going to take his drive test at DMV. He practiced his driving skills with my car which has a stick. However, I would like to improve his chances of success and have him take the test with an automatic car (as to me, I failed the test the first time because I had a car with a stick and passed the second time because I switched with an automatic car). The problem is that neither me nor his dad has an automatic car and we don't have relatives around to lend us one for the test. What can he do in this case? He knows how to drive an automatic because he had a few classes with an instructor. Any advice is well appreciated. Marie
Both of my children who are now in their twenties failed the DMV driving test each 3 times.it is usually for nitpicky things and I think they are good drivers.Are some places easier for passing the test than others?They failed the tests in Davis,El Cerrito and Vallejo. Chauffeur mom
What's steps are needed for a teenager to learn to drive? mom of new driver
Any experience with a misdemeanor ticket for reckless driving? My son crashed his own car, the rear back tire & the car was damaged. He said he skipped when making a sharp turn yesterday around 4pm during the storm. The police who was called to the scene did not issue any ticket when we talked about what happened on the phone. He just told me to arrange towing.By the time I arrived on the scene he was giving my son the ticket for reckless driving. His reason was the neighbours in the area said a lot of teenagers did drifting there all the time. They called 911...According to my son, he did not participate in drifting. He was just there at the wrong time & the wrong place. The neighbours said they saw him watching some boys drifted there & assumed he crashed because of drifting as well. My son, therefore , got this ticket. The police told us to defend in court. The officer wrote he did not see the incident happened, and the speed limit is 25 and my son's speed is also 25. No damage to any body or property except our own car & the scratch on the curb.
My question is this is my son 2nd ticket since he got his provisional license in July,2009. His 1st ticket was 4 days ago for speeding on the freeway. He admitted to me for speeding but he definitely contested to this misdemeanor offense. He is planning to defend himself in court. Any advice? Any consequences with record if he is convicted. BTW, he is just a green card holder. concerned mom
I would suggest that unless he tells you the truth, the whole unvarnished truth, that you should take his car, and insurance away. The problem is the two incidents so closely together. The speeding ticket should have triggered more care on his part, not less. If this trend continues the state can take his license away for a year or permanently and much worse.
Suggestions: get the truth, require more driving school either online or in car, have your son work to pay the tickets and school, repair the car, and prove that he has learned to improve his driving. Whether he was drifting or spun out because of the rain - neither are acceptable behavior on the road.
A little fortitude on your part right now may go a long way. Regard this a second chance, and be thankful the officer was there and the neighbors called. This really could be so much worse, use it as a wakeup call, we could all be better drivers. wish you well
Sit down with your teen and go through it all. If you can't agree on a particular section, agree to leave it out - or add a different option. Then STICK TO IT including the consequences for failing to keep to the agreement.
It is a valuable exercise just reading through it together. It helped my son understand how serious we were about his using the car responsibly and what would happen if he did not. And yes, he has lived out some of the consequences - not easy but not terrible either.
Good luck! Parent of driving 16 year old boy
Our 16 year old son has recently started getting rides from other teen drivers at night to various activities. The other teens are under the age of 18. We have had a number of discussions about the inappropriateness of this behavior (illegal and potentially dangerous). While he claims he will not do it again (and not sure I believe him)...he also thinks we are being ridiculous since ''everyone else does this all the time.'' I am curious what others think...and how often does this actually happen? What boundaries do you set with your teen? Concerned parent
I'm sure my kids did it more than once... but hopefully not without thinking of the consequences. One of my kids' friends had an accident & his parents didn't mention to the insurance company that he was driving, or that he had friends in the car. I don't know what I would have done, but I would have told the truth, told the parents of the other kids... and either asked them to help pay for the damage, or just have taken the keys until my kid earned driving privileges again.
I also committed myself to telling parents if I saw their kids driving with other kids, or driving recklessly, or (for that matter) riding bikes without helmets. If you commit to always doing it its not such a big thing --- ''I saw Tom and his friends downtown today, I didn't realize he had a full license already.'' or ''Did you know Joe rides his bike around with his helmet hanging off the handlebars?'' Do I feel badly for the kids? I'd feel worse if they were dead and I hadn't said anything.
Yes. Its pretty old fashioned...like the days when parents worked together to get their kids to 18 alive and well. Please don't listen to ''all the other kids do it'' when the other choice is to do what you wish other caring parents would do for you and your teen. I would want to Know
We made it very clear to our son that such violations would not be tolerated nor was he allowed to ride with other teen drivers. We were willing and did provide legal, adult transportation, on demand if needed. Failure to comply would result in loss of driving privileges. There isn't anything to argue about, follow the rules or you don't drive. I'm the parent, my kids are not in charge. i also stop at stop signs
Are parents just not informed or are they deliberately ignoring the provisional license restriction? Teen drivers under 18 are not allowed to drive with their friends without an adult driver in the car for a year. (It used to be 6 months but as of 1/1/06 it went up to a year.) They are also not allowed to drive past 11 p.m. as of 1/1/06.
But time and again I see new drivers transporting their young friends (not within the parameters of the "exceptions to the provision) and what amazes me is that they do it with their parents permission. Im even told by parents that they believe their teen driver is "safer with a companion! Or "what can I do? Theyre going to do it anyway.
While I know its not easy to enforce completely, but if all parents toed the line of the law it would certainly be easier. Technically the cops could issue a fine of $35 to $50 and 16-24 hours community service, but apparently that is not being enforced even at that minor level (and all the kids know it.)
CA made this law to save lives. Parents who are allowing their teen to violate this law is beyond reason to me this goes for both the driving teens and the ones allowed to be passengers. Will we as a community have to experience a serious accident or death to have it hit home? Weve spent sixteen years keeping our kids safe in cumbersome car seats and seatbelts, when Im sure many of us grew up without such precautions when we got into cars. Why stop short of the goal of keeping our teens safe now? What do other parents think?
Am I the only one that feels this way?
For me the hardest moment was putting her in a car with a less experienced, but 18 year old driver. In Berkeley, where busses are an option, there are very few good excuses to drive illegally, at 16 or 17.
As for parents who let there kids break this law for the most common reasons (tired of having the argument, don't want to drive the kids yourself) I have very little respect for them. In the case of my kids' friends... I don't think their teenagers have much respect for them either.
By the way -- the next thing that happens is that they all want to be the one to drive the group, except when they are going out to party...when they suddenly all want to ride instead. I was always (secretly) happy to see they were ''designating'' drivers...but would rather none of them was drinking illegally, either. I could never prove anything was going on, and now they are all off in college....
Be strong. Your insistence is what gives your kid the ''excuse'' to do the right thing, when friends are urging her to do something else Anonymous for Kids' Sake
For those who haven't alread heard, there are two important changes to California's provisional driver's license rules as of Jan. 1, 2006. These apply to ALL drivers under the age of 18, including those who already have their license. So some kids will have to stop carrying teen passengers now, even if they could legally do so before.
1. Prohibits a provisional licensee from carrying passengers under the age of 20, unless accompanied by a licensed parent/guardian, licensed/certified instructor or a licensed driver 25 years of age or older, during the first 12 months (formerly six months) the driver is licensed .
2. Prohibits a provisional licensee from driving between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. (formerly 12 midnight and 5 a.m.).
Is it true that the new law that just came into force prohibiting teens from driving for 12 months post-license with those under 20 in the car, unless a licensed adult of at last 25 is in the car, applies to teens who already had their license? My understanding is that the new law applies only to those who get their licences from now on, not those who got their licences last fall or summer. Am I wrong? Dianna
Help! The January 6 Parents of Teens newsletter advised that tougher ''graduated licensing'' restrictions on new drivers became effective on January 1st. Previously, new license holders under age 18 were restricted from driving with passengers under age 20 for the first six months after obtaining a license; now it is for the first 12 months, and applies retroactively to licenses issued since January 1, 2005.
Plenty of data show that these laws have reduced teen accidents; they're designed to increase everyone's safety. In the Newsletter archives on this topic (when the restriction was six months), nearly every writer lamented that some parents ignore teen driver laws and strenuously urged every parent to help enforce them.
Well, we just learned that our teen has been riding with a friend who has been licensed for only seven months and, since January 1, is breaking the new law -- with her parents' permission. When (genuinely shocked) I questioned the parent, he seemed surprised and offended that I objected to our daughter being driven illegally by his.
Are my concerns misplaced? (1) That our daughter knew her friend was no longer legal to be driving her but didn't bring it to our attention, and (2) That this family did not ask us whether we were comfortable with the situation. It may be their prerogative, I guess, to flout public policy and allow their teen to drive illegally but is it their prerogative to involve other teens without the explicit permission of their parents -- without respecting other families' safety concerns and rules for their own children?
Our teen is just beginning the process of getting her learner's permit, and it seems the first messages she's gotten are: ''Teens are competent to decide for themselves what's safe to do'' and ''The risks and consequences of illegal driving are no big deal'' and ''It's OK to disobey annoying laws that impose temporary inconveniences.''
Am I off-base for feeling side-swiped, so to speak, or what? I'd love to hear other parents' thoughts and experiences.
What does that mean? That means that until our kids were legally able to take riders and accept rides according to the law, we did the driving. That if we did not want our children in particular places without chaperones we went with them or they didn't go. Simply said, if you have an issue, a value, and opinion etc, you have the responsibility to take care of it and cannot ask another parent to take on that responsibility.
More - we always talked to our kids about our concerns and values, we tried to blend into the woodwork, and we acknowledged their frustration. Finally, we told them, and meant it, that we would pick them up any time, any place without question, and reserved the right and responsibility to discuss the situation later. The funny thing about that is that we ended up picking up our kids as well as their friends on numerous occasions when they found themselves in uncomfortable situations or felt unsafe.
So, talk to your child about your rules and values, listen to her and come to some mutually acceptable agreements, but also take responsibility for enforcing your rules yourself. Carolyn
I want to know what is the consequence of violating the law requiring no under-aged person in the car for 1 year? My daughter keeps insisting that she will ride with her friend anyway, that ''no one'' follows that rule, especially if they already are past the 6 mo. We are holding to the rule and will deal with her directly if we find out, but I'm curious what exactly happens to the driver when they get stopped and found out to be breaking the law?? ticket? license suspended?? I want to be able to talk to my daughter's friend and her parents about what she is risking by doing this. Parent of 16 yr old non-driver
Here's what the DMV website says:
Provisional Driver License Sanctions: Currently a 30-day restriction is required if your driver record shows a violation point count of two or more points in 12 months.http://www.dmv.ca.gov/dl/vioptct.htm
A six-month suspension and a one-year term of probation shall be imposed if your driver record shows a violation point count of three or more points in 12 months. Also, the court is required to impose community service hours or fines for violation of specific provisions.
NOTE: Probation means: no tickets, no accidents, and any current restriction or suspension will run its full term even if you turn 18 before the restriction or suspension ends.
A one-point violation includes: "Violation of License Restrictions: 14603 VC. No person shall operate a vehicle in violation of the provisions of a restricted license issued to him.Somewhere I read that police cannot stop a kid for this violation UNLESS the driver has already committed (or is suspected of) some other infraction (running a stop sign, speeding, etc.). So, logically, a young driver who gets 1 point for this is also getting at least 1 other point for another violation, making a total of 2 points which would kick in a 30-day restriction. And if another point is racked up within the year, more serious penalties kick in.
The other way police could discover this violation is, of course, if the young driver (with young passenger[s]) are involved in an accident. Then another question is: Would the parents' insurance company cover losses and damages if the teen driver were driving illegally? I think that would be dicey. Does anyone who works in the insurance business know???
IMHO, whatever the penalties or risks are, so long as s/my teen is a minor for whom I am legally and financially responsible, s/he does not have the right to pick and choose which laws to obey or disobey -- not without risking PARENTAL consequences of loss of privileges.
Limits with Love
This subject is one more piece of evidence that it does, indeed, take a village to raise a child. We need to support one another. My son is 15, and can't wait to get his license. My new husband (his stepfather) and I plan to sit down with my son when he gets his license, and clearly lay out our expectations. Violating the new driver restrictions will result in us taking away his license for a period of time (to be determined). My husband has also stated that if he's caught street racing, we'll take away any car and sell it. My husband loves cars, and is glad to share his knowledge with my son. On a more serious note, my husband's mother, while riding a bike, was killed by a drunk driver; my husband was only 17 at the time. He has a deep understanding of the hazards and consequences associated with irresponsible driving. I encourage you to make sure your son follows the rules, and I'll do the same with mine. sympathetic parent
She ran a red light in an intersection and was broadsided. My daughter had the worst of the injuries: facial lacerations and a shard of glass was imbedded above her eye, requiring 7 stitches to close it. Her wrist may be fractured - we won't know that for a few more days. She has body aches and pains but is lucky to be walking around. Had she been sitting by the passenger door, instead of in the middle of the back seat, her injuries would have been a lot more serious.
I write because last week a mother pleaded for parents to be aware of the new driving restrictions and enforce them. Even though the driver's parents had forbidden their daughter to drive others, she did. In addition to having other kids in the car and driving after curfew, she tested positive for alcohol at the scene. Her license has been suspended for a year.
As a parent, I have learned a painful lesson. I cannot take my daughter's word about her transportation arrangements with friends, because she doesn't know who can legally drive her. I need to call the parents and find out if the drivers are in fact legally able to drive passengers. And I need to communicate these plans to other parents. I sense a reluctance by parents to get in their kids' faces about plans, parties, transportation, etc. I feel fortunate that the accident wasn't worse. And it seems that the kids involved feel real remorse and have experienced a wake up call.
But it is our job as parents to keep our kids safe. And checking up on plans, drivers, legal limits and asking about drinking, drugs and driving is one way we all need to get involved. I urge every parent to stop a make a phone call before they let their child ride with another teen. Perhaps that call can avert the heartache we're now experiencing. Please keep this anonymous. Thank you.
My 16 year old recently got her driver's license. Recent changes to the law require new teenage drivers to 1) not drive other teenagers for 6 months after they receive their license and 2) not drive at all between midnight and 5 A.M. Of course my daughter says, "None of the other parents care about this," or "X's dad says he assumes he'll drive friends anyway and would rather know about it than have him lie," and of course I say, "You're stuck with the parents you've got," and "If a cop stops you, you could lose your license." Although in general, she's a serious, responsible person, I'm concerned that she's disobeying these laws and not being truthful. Most of all, I'm concerned about her concentrating on the road and becoming a safe, experienced driver. I don't want to be either suspicious or naive. I would love to hear how others have handled these issues.
In addition to this we gave her a Highway Survival Course for her 16th birthday (See recommendations for Sear's Point Highway Survival Course for the rest of this review.)
The next restriction is the one I love the most. Your new driver cannot drive between the hours of midnight and 5 am. unless there's a 25 year old in the car. This last a full year. In other words, there's a built in curfew-- much like Cinderella's coach turning into a pumpkin. I would have given my eye tooth to have had this restriction on my older son's license. Now, by 12:05 a.m. I hear that key in the door.
If your child decides not to abide by the 1st year limitations on the license he might get away with it, but then again he might be stopped for that burned out tail light and I believe he can lose the license. The DMV has a booklet explaining all this. It's a parent's handbook and available at the DMV office.
The bottom line is: it's the law. The law is the law, even when nobody else follows it. -Winifred
Provisional driver license restrictions during the first year The following new restrictions are for minors who apply after July 1, 1998, pass their driving test at DMV and are issued a provisional driver license. During the first 6 months you are licensed to drive you must be accompanied by a driver 25 years of age or older if you drive between the hours of 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. or if you have passengers under the age of 20 in the car at any time. During the second 6 months, you must still be accompanied by a driver 25 years of age or older if you drive between the hours of 12 a.m. and 5 a.m., however, now you may have passengers under the age of 20 in the car without supervision between the hours of 5 a.m. and midnight.
The following new restrictions are for minors who apply after July 1, 1998, pass their driving test at DMV and are issued a provisional driver license. During the first 6 months you are licensed to drive you must be accompanied by a driver 25 years of age or older if you drive between the hours of 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. or if you have passengers under the age of 20 in the car at any time. During the second 6 months, you must still be accompanied by a driver 25 years of age or older if you drive between the hours of 12 a.m. and 5 a.m., however, now you may have passengers under the age of 20 in the car without supervision between the hours of 5 a.m. and midnight.
I'm working on some very clear guidelines concerning driving behavior for our two kids, who are each about to become licensed drivers (our son is turning 15 1/2 and getting his permit; our daughter is two years older and finally feels ready for her license). I am especially interested in rules for cell phone and iPod usage, and would very much appreciate any guidelines that you have come up with in your family regarding the safe usage of these two ubiquitous items. Both kids are very trustworthy but neither has ever had this degree of freedom and/or responsibility; I want to create rules that are reasonable but keep everyone safe with eyes on the road. Texting is of course off limits. We have an older car without any fancy technology, so the kids would need to use hands-free ear buds with their phones. Is it realistic to tell them to pull over to use their phones? What are the consequences if you find out they've violated the rules? I'd like to get this right for the kids right out of the gate. Thanks for your suggestions. Wanting to put them in their own Sherman tanks
We don't think it is safe to drive while talking on the phone even hands free. It certainly isn't AS safe.
So our plan so far is to say if they can't resist using their phone while driving it should be turned off. They can turn it back on when they get to their destination.
We are planning to have a one-strike rule for violating any driving contract provisions. If they drive and text or use their phone, they lose driving privleges until they are 18 and buy their own car.
Somehow we all learned to drive and survived for most of our lives without having instant phone contact while driving. --future teen driver parent (gulp)
As to music, there are relatively inexpensive devices that can be purchased at Radio Shack or Target that allow an iPod or other MP3 player to use the car's stereo system to play music. Ours cost around $80 and we use it all the time. No need to use earbuds while driving, and again, it's not a good idea. Drivers are somewhat distracted by radio music, but at least they're likely to hear ambient sound (other cars, ambulances, horns, etc.) mom of an iPod addict
The new Wireless Communications Device Law (effective January 1, 2009) makes it an infraction to write, send, or read text-based communication on an electronic wireless communications device, such as a cell phone, while driving a motor vehicle.
Two additional laws dealing with the use of wireless telephones while driving went into effect July 1, 2008. The first law prohibits all drivers from using a handheld wireless telephone while operating a motor vehicle, (California Vehicle Code [VC] 23123). Motorists 18 and over may use a "hands-free" device. The second law effective July 1, 2008, prohibits drivers under the age of 18 from using a wireless telephone or hands-free device while operating a motor vehicle (VC 23124). Parent of teen driver
Greetings - our daughter, now approaching her 17th birthday, will be taking her driving test in August and it is highly likely that she will pass her test and become a licensed driver. I'd like to ask what ''contracts'' other parents have put in place at this crucial juncture. Did you find a pre-written contract on line, and if so, where? Did you make up your own guidelines, and if so, would you mind sharing the key points? My daughter is very trustworthy but this is all brand-new territory for both of us and I want to give her very clear parameters from the outset. I'm interested in things that might be obvious (no texting while driving) to less so (be home by X pm) and I'm especially interested to learn about the things I may not be thinking of at all. Thanks for sharing your experience and wisdom on this
I think you will find the most push-back around the teens driving teens rule, because it makes them all drive or all walk someplace...and truthfully, not all parents are sticklers about this. I don't care; the law's the law and even more importantly-- you are absolutely personally liable, if something were to happen while your teen was driving around another teen. You put yourself personally at enormous risk.
Our son has respected these rules and knows we mean business. We have told him that we will pick him up if he wants/needs to be out later than 11:00... but mostly he'd rather drive himself, so he shows up home on the dot at 11:00. This limits his freedom, sure, but truthfully, that's probably what the law was designed to do.
Those are the rules; if he wants to drive, then he must follow them. No second chances. It's not a toy.
You do have to recognize that there is an enormous learning curve for new drivers, though... nothing is intuitive yet, and really only comes from driving a lot, so it's important that he has a lot of opportunity to drive; and if he can do it a lot in the beginning when you are around (and you're not a super nervous passenger), you may have a chance to help pass on tips for good driving habits. - parent of teen driver
Many parents seem to be oblivious to the basic legal details of a the provisional license for any CA teen under 18 (see below). Even if you teen is 18 these make GOOD sense to follow for a year. It would make it much easier if ALL parents enforced this law!!
We have made it quite clear we don't care what other kids are doing you break the law you lose your driving privilege. 1st time- week, 2 time - month 3 time- a year. In the beginning we asked our son to text us when he got to where ever he was going and again before he started to drive home. Now that we have more confidence we do not ask for this each time. Of course no texting or talking on the phone EVER while driving or again he loses driving privileges.
Provisional driver license restrictions during the first year
After you pass your driving test, you will be issued a provisional driver license. With your provisional driver license, you must be accompanied and supervised by a licensed parent, guardian or other licensed driver 25 years of age or older, or by a licensed or certified driving instructor when you:
* Transport passengers under 20 years of age at any time, for the first twelve months.
* Drive between 11 pm and 5 am for the first twelve months.
This means you cannot give anyone under 20 years old (your friends, your brother(s), sister(s), cousin(s), etc.) a ride unless you have a licensed parent, a guardian or other adult 25 years old or older in the car with you. You are also not allowed to drive between 11 pm and 5 am during your first year after getting your license unless you have a licensed parent, a guardian or other adult 25 years old or older in the car with you.
With a provisional license, you can drive by yourself between the hours of 5 am and 11 pm. If you are under 18, you cannot be employed to drive a motor vehicle. Concerned parent of teenage boy
We did not have a Driving Contract because the Virginia State Laws for minors are strict with severe penalties. Virginia requires one semester of in class Drivers Education, 14 hours of driving with a licensed Driving Instructor, and 40 hours of adult supervised driving before a license is issued. The following rules apply to all drivers under the age of 18, based on statistical data for major causes of teen accidents:
1. Driving curfew is mid night (Cinderella license) unless proof is available for a school event or employment
2. Only ONE unrelated (non familial) occupant is allowed in the car with minor driving
3. NO texting or cell phone usage while driving
Our Household Rules:
1. Use of the car is a privilege earned by positive, trustworthy behavior and solid grades
2. Completion of Eagle Scout/Gold Award before car can be used for pleasure, the car can be used for employment and academic events while working on completion
3. When the car is in use, user must let parents know where the car/driver are (if the car/driver change location after departing home, a phone call reporting movement is required)
4. If the car is used for pleasure (non academic or employment related) gas must be paid for by the user
5. The car must be left neat and clean for the next user
6. The car keys must be left in a mutually convenient spot for all household members to retrieve when it is their turn to use the car
Thoughts on Insuring your teen driver:
Most car insurance companies require that you notify them when your teen has their Learners Permit. They generally do not charge premiums until they earn their full license. Check with your car insurance company for their Teen Driving Contract. I have heard some insurance companies (State Farm) require the teen to complete a ''driving knowledge'' packet before they will insure them, this may vary by state.
Most insurance companies will offer a ''Good Student'' discount and/or Eagle Scout/Gold Award discount. This discount will continue through college with proof of grades by transcript submission.
When your teen leaves for college don't forget to report this change to your car insurance carrier. If your student does not take a car to college and lives more than an hour away from home (distance will vary by state) their premium could be reduced. tryin2help
Hi My son(16) has his permit and hopes to get his drivers license in a couple of months. I was wondering about how others have approached this scary prospect...in terms of financially and rules....who pays for the insurance? gas? rules around riding with other minors, consequences for mis-use. other issues that i should be thinking about?! thanks kindly audrey
Insurance is a necessity and the rate is high for male teenagers because they are more likely to have accidents. Parents differ about who pays for the insurance and gas. I made my son pay for both. That energized him to get some paid work during the summers to pay for the insurance. Also, he knew that if he had an accident or got a ticket, his insurance cost would go even higher. He definitely didn't want that!
I see no problem with the parent covering gas costs, but I really think the teenager needs to start understanding that insurance costs--though high--could be higher based on his behavior. If he doesn't pay for insurance, he might not care that much about it. Anonymous
Careful. The DMV didn't know that it was legal for my daughter (17) to drive my son (15) to school.
The guy who gave her the driving test said emphatically ''absolutely no one under 20 in the car'' - ''no exceptions''.
He was wrong. I printed out the exceptions to the rule and presented it to a supervisor at the Claremont Ave DMV so she could inform the department.
The rules can be found here: http://www.dmv.ca.gov/teenweb/dl_btn2/dl.htm
scroll to bottom of screen and click on 'exceptions'. mike
I have an about-to-be-16 year old son, who will soon be getting his driver's license. He is a careful driver, good grades, and hasn't done anything startlingly bone-headed in the last year. We've been talking, endlessly, about good judgement wrt driving, and before he goes for the driver test, I'd like to put all of this down on paper and have him, his father and me sign it.
Has anyone written a ''contract'' with their new driver that lays out your family's rules for driving? I'm thinking about issues like use of the family car, who is responsible for the costs associated with driving the car, and (obviously) consequences for breaking either the family's rules or California law (especially with respect to underage passengers!) Thanks, a Mom trying to anticipate issues...
I think it's available for free by emailing a request to email@example.com. Include your name, mailing address, phone number, and number of copies you want.
If you make sure that your already responsible teen knows that an automobile can be a lethal weapon and he is responsible for far more than just himself and the car, it will make a big impression. Make sure he understands that a terrible accident can cause a lifetime's worth of guilt and possible financial ruin. This is a time when I think scare tactics make sense as a 16 year old has never had to think about actions/consequences in such a major way before.
We had to point out to our 19 year old, away at college, that the potential consequence of his getting into an accident in a borrowed underinsured car, could be the loss of all his college funds if he were to be sued. These are things young people have not had to think about, no matter how responsible they are. anon
Since my 16 yo son is my only child I don't have experience in a lot of areas except by gaining it through trial and error. My latest confusion has to do with use of the car. He has had his license since last March and so far (knock on wood) so good. I don't have any problem with daytime use, it's the nighttime use that I waiver on. He wants to be able to take the car (we have 2) and spend the night at a friend's house. The problem with this is that I feel he's out there wandering around loose in the world and I'm not having any control over him. I initially said no, that if he wanted to spend the night at a friend's house, I would take him and pick him up. If he wanted to take the car out, he would have to be back at 11:45 (his current curfew). Then I gave in and let him keep the car over night and felt horrible about it. I guess while writing this I see that I should stick to my guns ... but he knows so well how to manipulate me to get my way. I guess the other issue is how not to wimp out with my teenager when I (have to admit it) really want to be loved by him like I was when he was younger. I'd appreciate any feedback on this issue from parents who have been there. Thanks.
For a couple of years (to prepare her) we have been telling our just graduated daughter that she needs to get her driver's license this summer, before leaving for college. We feel it is a safety issue more than anything, especially since she is female. She is extremely resistant and says that it is scary. (She was this way with riding a bike and other 'new' skills.) We have explained that she may be in a situation that she needs to get out of, drive someone to a doctor/hospital, or drive when her friends have been drinking. We have also said that just because she has a license it doesn't mean she has to drive, she just needs to be able to. She has had a lesson from a professional teacher and we have taken her to Alameda Naval Station (a GREAT place to learn) and she has made much progress in 3 hours of driving. There are moments when she actually seems to be okay with it. I am wondering if we are making a mistake by forcing this. I am hoping that at some point in the next few years she will see the value in this skill and decide that she wants to do it. Any thoughts from others who have faced this? Are we setting her up to be so resistant that she will never want to be a driver? HELP!! anonymous
One more tip. When it came time for my son to take the driving test for his license, we had a professional teacher take him. He took the test in the driving school car (an automatic, we had a standard transmission). The teacher was familiar with the neighborhood around the DMV and prepped him before the exam.
At 28, my son is one of few of his friends that has no desire to own a car but he is a competent driver and is glad I pushed him to get his license.
Also, my son, now 17, hates to be the designated driver. His friends know that he will not drink so they depend on him to drive them to and from the parties.
Let your daughter wait until she is ready. Do you know the statistics for deaths due to automobile accidents? David
In the end, I got my drivers license at 36 because I moved somewhere with bad public transportation. I didn't regret all the years of using public transportation, but I sure kicked myself for not having given myself the option of driving years earlier.
Not to scare you, but there were several close calls in college and after (being followed home from a bus stop by a threatening guy), instances of men aggressively trying to get me in their car, groping, friends not being reliable (passing out, leaving without me) and having to walk home alone in the wee hours (and having people offer me rides so I'd be safe, which I of course declined). Having the option of driving would have been great. And now they have zip cars you can reserve online.
I hope my experiences can help your daughter realize she will be empowering herself if she has the *option* of driving. Best to you all! Former non-driver
My son is 17 years old and hasn't taken any steps to get a drivers license yet. School and all his activities are in Oakland, Berkeley, or San Francisco and he's perfectly happy walking or taking bus/BART. I have no doubt that he will eventually want to drive, so I don't mind waiting, however I don't understand how somebody 18+ years old learns to drive. If he's 18 when he starts, can he still get a driver's permit in order to practice driving? Also, I've been told that teenagers who are 16 years old with driver's permits can practice while covered on their parents' insurance. Is that still the case for wannabe drivers 18 or older? Any advice about this would be greatly appreciated. - in no rush to share the family car
Would love feedback from this wise group on the following: our daughter, soon to be 17 1/2, does not yet have her driver's license, and I'm wondering what position to take on this issue. A little backstory: when she turned 15 1/2, she expressed interest in driving, got her permit, took the behind the wheel training, and then did not pass her DMV driving test on the first and only try. Since then, much less interest. She's got a full plate with academics and athletics and is pre-occupied with that; she has me to drive her as needed so another lack of motivation. A little more: Her younger sibling is about to get his permit and is very anxious and motivated to drive, so he will be at the wheel shortly. Who knows how she will receive that? And my husband wants her to drive, to be more independent and better prepared to leave the nest. He's pretty assertive about that and thinks I'm doing her a disservice by not encouraging her more actively. As for me: I am a pretty cool customer, but the thought of my kids driving just strikes terror in me. Although I've tried to be a good teacher, I'm sure I'm communicating my dread to my daughter. What can I say? She's had the 6 requisite hours with a professional teacher; that was quite some time ago. Question: do I wait for her to be more ready, more motivated? Do I encourage her, put her behind the wheel now whenever possible? In the past, I've waited until my kids were developmentally ready to tackle big challenges. The bottom line: I want her to be an outstanding driver, safe at all times. I know she really needs the practice and to move on with this. When to make this happen? How to get her back behind the wheel with confidence? thanks for your feedback
On the other hand, with my own kids, I think of driving much like swimming: Even if you don't plan to do it much, you should definitely know how. What if she is out with friends and one is incapacitated in some major or minor way that prevents him or her from driving? My son has had his learner's permit for 3.5 months and is still little anxious to get behind the wheel. So, we are taking it slowly and we'll let him test for his license when he is ready, not when he turns 16 on the dot.
If I were you, I would start setting time aside to take your daughter out driving (assuming her permit is still valid?) and help her hone her skills and build confidence. She can take the test when she is 18 without all the driver's training stuff and provisional permit considerations anyway. It could be a great 18th birthday present to herself. Maybe push it a little and see what happens. Sometimes kids need the gentle push from their parents. It lets them know that we have confidence in them.
Why did I push it? Like you, I am terrified about my kid driving. Also like you, I don't like to push kids to do things they aren't ready for developmentally. In this case, though, I feel strongly that driving is a life skill that a person has to have, and I would much rather my teen learn at home, when I can drive with him, explain things to him, and (hopefully) instill good habits. If he didn't get his license before he left for college, I didn't want him going off and doing it alone as an 18-year-old adult. There was recently an article in the NY Times about teen drivers http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/18/new-lessons-to-pave-a-road-to-safety/?scp=4&sq=teen%20drivers&st=cse that states the importance of parents ''narrating'' what they do as they are driving: scanning the road, being on the lookout for pedestrians, pointing out unsafe driving. I want to do as much as I can while he's still living at home. Anon
My son just turns 16. He has been asking me for taking
driving lessons in the past few months. I have told him
repeatedly that he has to wait until he is 18. My reasons
are that 16 is too young to own a car and drive. I have
read a few articles that teenagers brains will not be fully
developed until it's 18. More importantly, my son is a
follower, he is immature and not street smart in certain
things. Not alone the cost of a car, insurance, maintenance
and gas. (I am a single mom and his Dad is out of the
picture). We live 5 minutes from his high school and there
is no reason for him to drive. Parking at the high school
is almost impossible in the morning. I am always available
to take him here and there on weekends. However, all his
best hang-out friends (5-6 of them) are taking lessons
together and start driving. He feels embarrassed and left
out and depressed. He said I don't understand him as much
as other parents understand their child. He said he can
take the lessons together with his friends and not drive
until 18. What shall I do? Let him or stick to my
principal. Please advice. Thank you.
worried single mom
In the process of all this, he might well gain some maturity. If he still wants to own a car, you can have him research costs like insurance, gas, maintenance, etc. to convince him that it's just not practical for him now to own a car.
I think if all his friends are really doing the driver's ed thing and you won't let him, then he'll build up a lot of resentment against you that could take years to dissipate.
Good luck. Dianna
My daughter is almost 16 and is very mature for her age. She is a focused, ambitious student and athelete. She currently has her driving permit and has logged over 40 hours of driving time with me. While she completely trustworthy and responsible, she needs alot more practice before I feel like she'll be safe to drive alone. Fifty hours over six months (the amount of time legally required to drive with a parent before taking the test) seems to me to be the MINIMUM time required for these kids to learn to drive safely. There is alot to learn-- anticipating other drivers, judging stopping distances, estimating the time needed to cross an intersection safely, deciding when to stop (or not stop) at a yellow light, merging onto highways and into fast-moving traffic, watching for pedestrians/ bikes, etc.. In addition, kids often don't know how to drive to places they've been going to for years. Learning all this just takes time.
I would advise you to go ahead and let your son get his permit at 16. Then if you don't let him get his license until he's 18, at least he'll have well developed driving skills by the time he does start to drive by himself.
Just as a side note: It is my understanding that one must take the driving test within one year of getting the permit. So if you do let him get his permit, but are not planning to let him get his license within the year, he will probably have to re-take the written test. bhovers1
My almost-15-year-old girl assured me yesterday that EVERYONE she knows will get a car when she or he is 16. (Because she knows one 15-year-old who's learning to drive and who says he'll have a car soon.) I reiterated that she may take driver safety, or whatever it's called, at Berkeley High when she's old enough, driving lessons when she's old enough, etc., but that she may not have a car until she's at least 18 and able to pay for it herself.
At this point, her assertions appear to simply be a statement of her need to feel independent, but I did start wondering what other parents do about driving. Melanie
I know that this was covered in part in a previous discussion on the website, but how have other parents dealt successfully with the restrictions on new teen drivers when all of the other parents of your teen's friends do not abide by the rules? We had my son wait until he turned 17 to get his license, since he was older than many of his classmates and we didn't want him to be the only one of his group driving as a sophomore. We feel fairly confident in his around-town driving skills, but are determined to stick by the "no passengers under 20" rule - for his safety as well as for theirs, and for our insurance liability. However, as his friends/classmates are turning 16, not one of their parents seem to insist upon this rule, which puts us at a disadvantage in enforcing this law. He is currently sharing one of the family cars, and it seems that most of his friends were handed a car the day they received their licenses (another point of contention for him), which must also make it harder for the parents to keep track of what is going on.
Short of calling all of the parents of his friends and asking for cooperation (which would embarrass him and I'm not sure we'd get anywhere with this), and short of forbidding him to step in a car with a friend who just received his/her license (although we are pointing out the reasoning behind the rule and the dangers involved) and continuing to do what we have been doing (offering to drive him, his girlfriend, his friends to places any chance we can), what other suggestions do parents have? If a teen is caught driving other teens during the six month period, does he/she get the license taken away until age 18 ... really? It would help to know that there is this heavy clout, and to use it as an example. Or do the cops let them off with a mere warning, as all of his friends and their parents seem to think?
It sure would help if every parent played by the same set of rules (the *law* in this case!), but I guess that would be wishing for too much...
- (anonymous, please)
The actual enforcement of the law was a bit problematic. I don't think the cops come down super hard about it, and usually give warnings rather than citations. We gave our son two warnings when it seemed to us that he was not abiding by our rules. The third time he was driving with another friend in the car and we found out, we took away all driving privileges for a week. This meant he had to take the bus to school and to after-school sports practice, as well as to and from an after-school tutor (to Kensington from BHS, then home to south Berkeley). We told him if he broke the rules again he would lose the privilege until the time that it would be legal to drive with friends in the car, which was three months in the future.
This worked well for our son. I think he was actually under pressure from other kids to ignore the restriction, since so many other families don't enforce it. Our drawing the line in such a public way took him off the hook and enabled him to abide by the rules without losing face socially, and helped him realize we were serious about the rule.
Please keep me anonymous so my kid won't be embarrassed. Thanks.
I handled it by having a long talk with him about money. We went over the facts. I explained to him that insurance companies do not have to pay if he was driving illegally at the time of an accident. I showed him the hospital bill from the day he was born, to let him see how expensive it is. I let him know his friends would have to sue him to pay such outrageous bills. But the key fact was to let him know that all these horrible things could happen even if he was not at fault. The fact is 2 out of 3 California drivers are out there with no insurance. They have no way to pay-it is up to him to protect himself.
I know a 16 year old girl that got a speeding ticket and an extra ticket for breaking the provisional rules. She was given a very high fine. $400. She had her license taken away for 2 weeks and had to do 50 hours of community service. This just happened a few months ago. Word out there is the police and judges are starting to take the rules more seriously than in the past.
Good luck. AJF
Hi - I'd love some advice on the following: I need to find ways to manage my own anxiety as my daughter learns to drive. She's 16 1/2, has her permit, would like her license, and needs more time at the wheel. I find myself so nervous when she's driving, and I'm sure I'm communicating that, despite my efforts to appear relaxed. The other day, she was driving, and in two situations, merged into the lane of traffic without looking at whether she in fact needed to yield, and I thought I would just have a nervous breakdown. Fortunately of course, it was light traffic and no one was nearby, but it was scary. She's a great kid, competent, trustworthy, and up until now, in my parenting, I've been trusting, encouraging of appropriate risk-taking, and generally pretty relaxed. But not now, not with this. She needs the practice and I need to get myself together to give her more driving time, and to make sure she has all the support and training necessary to become an outstanding, safe driver. Any suggestions? Freaked but maintaining
Our daughter is turning sixteen in a few short weeks and is very excited at the prospect of getting her driver's license. She has her learner's permit, has completed the six-hour behind-the-wheel training course and is now accumulating the hours she needs to be eligible to take her driver's exam early next year. She is a very grounded, mature, responsible young adult. She takes her school work seriously, gets great grades, earns money babysitting, is not remotely what one could consider a party animal. She looks forward to the freedom of movement and self-determination that driving will permit (don't we all?). I know we will create a contract and that I will know where she is at all times and that she won't be heading off somewhere unaccounted for, and I know when the time comes she will be a highly trained driver. Here is the issue: I am just terrified of the prospect of her at the wheel. I do a ton of driving, I see so many idiots on the road, I have lived long enough to have out-lasted a lot of people, and I think if something bad happened to my daughter I would just stop breathing. So this post is really about me and not her; and I could use some advice about how to handle my own feelings about her increased independence and the risks involved; I don't want my own anxiety to poison the whole well here for either of us in this area. To make matters more real, my best friend lost her twenty-one-year-old son about two years ago, and we are all still in mourning, and that no doubt colors my sensibilities in this regard. I trust my daughter, I just don't trust the world she is entering, and this is the first time in her almost-sixteen years in the world that I feel completely out of control and not in charge of her safety. Would really welcome some words of wisdom here. Scared like never before
You've raised a child that in your words is ''a very grounded, mature, responsible young adult. (Who) takes her school work seriously, gets great grades, earns money babysitting, is not remotely what one could consider a party animal.'' That means that she has an excellent foundation for making good decisions, and has at the very least, the rudimentary ability to keep herself safe. This is what every teen needs.
My son, like your daughter is a mature, grounded teen, who got his license a few months ago so I know your anxiety. We are having him do a computer course, Teen Smart, from Adept Drivers, and this has further improved his skills, especially at awareness of what is happening on the road beside, and in back of him. Passing this course also gives you a AAA discount on insurance.
Consider expressing your concerns to your daughter in a straight forward way, when you are calm. Discuss the death of your friend's son and how this impacting you, and your goals, both for yourself and your daughter, as she as moves out into the world. mom of new driver
My second thought is, the flip side of terror is gratitude. Every day you and your child inhabit this world together is precious; you never know whether today might be the last one. So you could worry about what may be gone tomorrow, or you could enjoy what's here today. John
He got a speeding ticket after 3 months doing 80 on 580, which was an expensive and good lesson for him (he paid for it and also did traffic school).
I dont' know how to ease your dread. I know that trusting your daughter to be a conscientious driver is only half of it. You just can't controll the rest so maybe you just have to let go and trust, pray, try to be more positive? Wait till she goes to college, if you think you're worried NOW!!! My best to you. Just know you are not alone in these feelings. mom of 18 yo driver ,in college.
My heart melted when I read your post. I also have a teen daughter, just turned 16, and currently in the process of completing her practice hours so that she can take a driving test.
Just this morning I took her out to drive and we had a scary moment where she found herself in busy traffic in a potentially dangerous situation. Once she pulled over and cried about it she said to me: I don't like it when you yell (and I wasn't actually yelling, but she experienced my reaction that way), but when I'm in a scary situation I WANT you to tell me what to do. It was a good reminder that she is still just a child and needs direction from me when she is in an unknown situation.
So, my advice to myself, now that you've given me the opportunity to reflect on my own feelings about this, is the following: I'll feel the need to set logical limits on her driving in the first 6 mos. She'll push back and complain about them, but truth is she'll be relieved to not find herself in a scary situation without her mom sitting next to her to help guide her out of it. This new learning leap she is taking behind the wheel has been a great way to be close with her, to watch as she takes fearful steps forward (a great reminder of when she was learning to walk). And then, at a certain point, I learn to let go and let her live her life, take risks, and meet her challenges using the resources that I've given her. I survived my teenage years, driving, experimenting, roaming, goofing-off, somehow with only the common sense that I had already been given.
As parents, we'll need to take these feelings to our friends or spouse/partner, cry about it, lament, remember our own early years when we took risks. At some point we'll begin to rediscover the boundaries between where our child/emerging-adult ends and we begin, and we can begin to let go. I'm with you on this one. Reach out to others as you have, and let's get through it together. We love our kids, and we want to see them live full lives. But we'll have to let go, within reason, to be able to see them fly away. roia
Need advice, suggestions, recommendations and support re:whether my 15 yr. old son should get his license, starting with a permit, and what would be the best way for him to be taught to drive if and when I feel he is responsible enough to start the process. As a single mom, I don't feel this is something I would feel confident teaching him, and I worry about him speeding, wrecking the car, etc. He has trouble focusing, remembering his things, and thinks rules are made to be broken. How have other parents handled this? Advice, suggestions appreciated. bd
When the day does come, I found a driving school on the internet that caters to kids with learning and attention problems and doesn't cost a huge amount more than the others. (Don't remember its name, sorry.)
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