Is my teen ready?
It is almost guaranteed that your Teen will think he/she is ready to drive before you do. Turning 15 is not a rite of passage to obtaining a learners permit. This is only a guideline our State puts in place. It is at this age when parents should begin assessing if their teenager is ready to take on this adult responsibility. Some teens may be ready at the age of 14, while others may not be mentally mature enough until 17 or 18.
There are key characteristics that you, as the parent, can identify and use to help you decide if your teen is prepared for this level of responsibility. At EDI, we are looking at certain behavioral traits as the short and long-term benefits to the education your Teen receives will have a far greater impact if your teen exhibits the following:
Emotional Control: Teenagers are going through tremendous changes in their lives. Good driving decisions are difficult to make when emotions are heightened. Emotional control is a sign of maturity. Your Teen should be able to make adequate decisions even when their emotions have the best of them. One of the best decisions they can make when emotional, is the decision not to drive until they have calmed down.
Decisiveness: Life-threatening decisions are made by experienced drivers daily. Too slow to react to situations on the road can result in serious injury or property damage. Some people are naturally more decisive then others. However be sure your teen can look at a situation and make a decision without over analysis and then ask your teen to rationalize their decision. Do not expect perfection at this point, we are only looking for indications of decisive maturity.
Attention span and focus: Safe driving requires teens to concentrate and focus. Drivers can be faced with multiple distractions at any given moment and Teens are burdened with far more distractions and life schedules then in the past. Teens must be able to put everything else aside to focus on driving. Good grades in school are usually a good indication of strong attention span and focus, however use your best judgement.
Patience: The development of driving skills takes time. Your teenager should desire to LEARN how to drive, not just want the keys. Ask them questions about driving while they are a passenger and share some of your experiences of having to be a patient driver (Traffic accidents, bad weather, slow drivers, etc). Ask for their thoughts on those types of situations. Maturity in patience is seen in Teenagers who see value in practice, persistence and who have sensible organization in their lives.
I encourage you to talk with your teens about driving and the responsibilities that come with it. Open their eyes to the expectations you as a parent will have in them as they move onto this pre-adult stage in their life. Communication in the early stages of skill development is important to minimize problems down the road. Please feel free to contact me with any questions.