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​Help your teenage driver make safe choices

teen driver putting on seatbelt in car Neither a borrower nor a lender be. That’s a quote from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” Advice from a father, Polonius, to his teenage son. There are two reasons why this is good teenage driving advice.

First: Lending a car to another teen is potentially dangerous. There will be a teenage driver, which statistically means a poor driver; there will be other teenagers in the car; there will probably be elevated emotions as a result; there will probably be overconfidence about driving skill in general since teens usually lend and borrow cars after they’ve driven only a few months; and, by definition, the teen is not driving his or her “regular” car – it’s a borrowed car.

Second: An insurance policy typically insures the vehicle for bodily injury and property damage only if the registered owner is driving it, or if it’s being driven with the permission of the registered owner. Teenagers seldom are the registered owners – parents are. So when teens lend to teens, there might be no insurance. Zero. The parent has not given the friend permission to drive. This means that our own teenager, riding as a passenger in your car, may not have coverage, because a teenage friend is doing the driving. If your children appreciate this, they may choose not to lend the keys to their friends.

Passengers get hurt, too. At some point, your teenagers will be passengers in a car driven by another teenager. Passengers can get hurt, too, worse than drivers. So let’s look at passenger safety. Here are some points to discuss with your child:

  • Don’t ride with someone again if you didn’t like their driving the first time.
  • Wear a seat belt, even if no one else wears theirs.
  • Let the driver concentrate. Don’t encourage speed, loud music, horseplay, etc.
  • Avoid alcohol, even as a passenger. It increases rowdiness, noise, distractions.

These are difficult things for a teenager to do. They require going against the grain, doing what isn’t fun, doing what isn’t emotional. That takes a lot of leadership.

That means doing what you know, inside, is the right thing to do. The smart thing to do. The responsible thing to do. Your child might even be pleasantly surprised and find out that the other occupants of the car agree – they wanted to settle down, too, but were afraid to say so.

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