If there are two things that teenagers love, it is being with friends and being independent. When teenagers first start driving, most laws have restrictions on friends in the vehicle. The topic has been well researched and shows that teens are already more distracted and act more recklessly when friends are in the car.
While some people may believe that this means teenagers should never drive with friends, there is a better way. Helping a teen transition to driving independently is a risky time, but it is vital to help them manage passengers. There are expectations and rules that parents can make that will help their teen learn to drive safely, even with friends in the car. Here are some ideas parents can implement in their family.
- Set a time limit. Once teens are allowed to drive with friends in the vehicle, parents can help their teen ease into the change by setting limits on the amount of time friends are allowed in the car. Saying that a teen can drive for an hour a day with friends or five hours a week helps the teens make plans that are within those limits. It also keeps them somewhat close to home for better practice and more familiar surroundings.
- Limit the number of friends. Research shows that the more friends in the car, the more distracted a teen is behind the wheel. In fact, having a friend in the car doubles a teen’s chance of crashing, but if there are two or more passengers in the car, the teen driver is five times as likely to crash. Ease them into the freedom of driving with friends by limiting the number of friends allowed in the car. With just one friend to start, then two, the teen learns to adjust to staying focused on the road.
- Set specific driving hours. When your teen is going out with friends, set clear rules on what hours they are allowed to drive during. There are several things to consider with setting this rule. First, driving in the dark means there is less visibility and more focus on the road is required. Second, the more tired a person is, the slower their reaction time becomes. A great way to help keep your teen and their friends safe is to only allow friends until a reasonable hour. Parents can even set it early and then move it later as their teen driver show responsibility.
Letting your kids take the wheel without a licensed driver in the passenger seat is a scary step. It is difficult to know if they will remember everything from their defensive driving classes. By limiting peers in the car, teens are safer. Setting boundaries around driving with friends in the car helps set expectations and ease them into driving responsibly.