Owning a car is a serious responsibility. Not only are you responsible for the vehicle, but you are responsible for the lives of everyone in the vehicle and everyone that comes around the vehicle when it is moving. A license is not the best sign to determine if your teenager is ready for his own car. Here are some points to consider.
1. An understanding of finances can be invaluable when it comes to owning a car. Ideally, the teenager needs to have earned at least a portion of the purchase price. After the car has been bought, it is a good idea for the new driver to be financially obligated to purchase the gas, do regular maintenance and pay for the insurance – all with his own money. The need for income cannot replace the need for good grades in school. A responsible person will figure out how to balance the two needs in order to accomplish his goals.
2. Almost anyone can pass the driver’s test given locally. It is far more important that Mom or Dad give the new driver a passing grade. Not only should the teenager know the legal rules, but he should understand how to drive defensively and learn to see problems before they arise.
3. A teenager that is respectful to Mom and Dad and other adults is much more likely to be respectful to authority. Attitude is not a good thing on the road. If your teenager shows respect and a mild temperament then he may be ready to have his own vehicle.
4. One good turn deserves another. Let your teenager borrow your car for a few nights (or even a couple of weeks). Long enough for the novelty of driving to wear off. After that you will likely see how he is going to treat his own car if you ever decide he is ready for one.
5. It is extremely important that your teenager have plenty of time behind the wheel before she flies solo. It is just as important that she experience different driving situations. Take her on a road trip and let her do some driving on the interstate, in city traffic and other situations you think might arise. Give her the experience a little bit at a time and her sense of responsibility and confidence behind the wheel will continue to grow.
6. Each teenager will be different. It’s not a good idea to set a date deadline for getting a teenager his first car. Instead judge each individual on his (or her) attitudes and actions.
Giving a teenager a car is like providing her with a weapon that weighs over a ton and that goes 70 miles an hour. It can be dangerous and scary. Be sure that your teenager appreciates the severity of the situation, is willing to take financial responsibility and is determined to respect the rules and authority that govern the road.