Children don’t drive. Adults do
I’m sure you can remember when the rumour of changing the driving age surfaced around your jurisdiction. I remember just before I turned 16 hearing many kids at school saying the province was going to raise the minimum driving age to 18. I didn’t think that was fair (I was a teen remember and anything against me was unfair!) I quickly took a driving course and went for my road test, all within 1 month of getting my beginners licence. Was I responsible enough to drive at that age? I thought so, but I’m not so sure my parents did. We never spoke about it.
Many teens feel it’s their “right” to get their licence while they are still teens. A reality check is needed here. They may have the “right” to attempt to get their licence, but it’s a privilege to keep it. Having a driver’s licence and driving a vehicle takes a lot of responsibility. Some teens have a difficult time with this responsibility, for various reasons. But the question remains, should parents have a say in whether their teen learns to drive?
My son recently got his driver’s licence and drives regularly. Before we agreed to allow him to get his licence, we had regular talks about what it would mean for him to learn to drive. As a driving instructor with Young Drivers of Canada, I decided I was going to teach him. I was also the main person to be with him while he practiced. I always instilled on him the importance of thinking ahead. Not just while driving, but the actions that happen before he drives. This would include how many passengers he can have at any one time, who his passengers are and what time of day should he drive. He seems to take this responsibility seriously so far, but maybe that’s because he grew up learning about driving responsibly from me.
If you’re a parent and you want to ensure your teen thinks about their actions before acting upon them, have regular talks with them. Show an interest in their safety. We all know peer pressure is huge within our teens, so showing support is important. Remember to compliment them when they use good judgement with their choice of route, who rides in the vehicle and how they drive. Avoid always criticising them. This confidence in their ability and judgement will build upon them over time.
The other side of the coin is to also discuss when things don’t go in their favour. They need to take responsibility for their actions. If you, as a parent, always bail them out, they may not take driving seriously. Let them take ownership for their actions, due to their carelessness.
Just because your teen may be of age to drive, doesn’t mean they should. They need to be mentally ready, and so should you. They may be your children, but they must be considered a young adult. Children don’t drive. Adults do.