Last week we crossed another milestone in the Higham house. Our first born is now a licensed driver. That's right, last week, Amy took him to the local DMV where he successfully completed his road test. There was a funny story about the actual test taking that I won't share here, but what matters is, he's driving.
I have to confess, it's a bit scary. Scary because he's actually able to drive on his own, and scary because it's another chapter in his life. But now that we're here, it is causing us to think about some things we've haven't had to thing about, such as the rules of the road.
Amy and I had already determined that there would be a set of restrictions for when our kids started driving. However, we hadn't yet sat down to discuss what those restrictions would be. I had some ideas, and I'm sure Amy had some ideas, but together we had nothing in place. Now what makes this a little different is that I didn't get my license till I was 19 years old with one foot out the door. Growing up in the city you have plenty of public transportation. You can get anywhere by riding a bus, trolly, subway, or elevated train, so the pressure to drive wasn't anything like the pressure a teenager or young adult might feel if he or she lived in the suburbs. What that means is, I wasn't driving as a teenager, so I never had restrictions.
As for Amy, she got her license as a teenager in high school. When I asked her if she had any restrictions, she couldn't remember any. Nonetheless, her experience behind the wheel as a teen offers a different view than mine. And together, we feel like there needs to be some kind of perimeters established for our teen drivers.
Here we are now with a teen driver, and we need a plan for what will become standard practice for all of our kids when they drive. So here is what we came up with...
But just having our sons phone out of reach isn't enough. Because teens don't always think about what their doing, our rule is that ALL cell phones must be secured away in the glove box. Why? Because sometimes the biggest distraction isn't us on our phones, but others in the vehicle on their phones, Oohing and Ahh-ing over something they they just looked at. Then what do they do? They say, Look at this! And the next thing their doing is putting the cell phone in their friends face. It happens! Amy has done it to me while I was driving!
So to eliminate the distraction all together, ALL cell phones must be placed into the glove box before the vehicle rolls. In the event that there is a true need to use the phone, our kids are to drive to a safe location where they can pull off the side of the road, park, and then proceed with using the cell phone.
2. No Friends in the Car for the first 3 Months!
It's one thing to drive a vehicle as a learner with mom and dad coaching. It's a completely different situation to drive a car on your own. I remember the very first time I drove by myself after getting my license. Suddenly there was a sense that I was now responsible for myself, the car, and others around me. That first outing immediately reminded me how important it was that I was completely focused on what I was doing.
For the last year, our #1 has always had an extra set of eyes in the vehicle. Amy and I took every opportunity to talk to him about the road and other cars and what to do as we drove with him. Now, he is doing it all on his own. So to help him build that confidence, we have decided that for the first 3 months, he will not be allowed to drive any where with his friends. We want to see that he is able to be continually focused on what he is doing behind the wheel, building up the confidence in decision making, timing, and directions. Friends in the car lead to conversations and distractions, loud music and sight-seeing excursions as they point out things that are happening outside the vehicle. We've decided to just eliminate those distraction so he can focus on his driving.
3. Boundaries Kept to Local Driving!
The third rule we put in place was that he must stay local. That means he can only drive within a designated area. We live in a relatively small community that borders another, even smaller, community. In between the two communities is what we might call the shopping district. All sorts of restaurants, stores, offices, and markets line the corridor. It all makes for a convenient area to create a circle of limits. This will allow our kids to drive back and forth to stores and restaurants without having to travel miles away from home. It also keeps him off the highway for a few weeks while to continues to build confidence. It also gives Amy and I the opportunity to send him on errands knowing that he doesn't have to go far. He can become all the more experienced behind the wheel while still be close to home.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of restrictions. We simply tried to think about our kids, and what we want them to be aware of. And I am sure that we will add things to this list as we cross those points when we realize we missed something, or as the other kids reach the same milestone.
But here's the question we have for you, If you have parented your teens through the driving years, what restrictions or guidelines did you place on your teen driver? We would love to hear what you have done with your kids. It might help us with something we might have missed.
If when you were a teen your parents set restrictions for your driving, what were they?
Share your comments and stories below in the comment section!
Thanks for reading!
Thanks for taking the time to read The Higham Family Blog. Each week we try to share new content about something we are learning, something we love, or something to offer encouragement to the family. We love to hear from our readers, so please share your thought in the comment section of each post.