I'm sure that adding a new driver to your household, in the form of your child, is both a joyful milestone and a terrifying prospect. Certainly, there's excitement in this rite of passage, but there's apprehension as well. It's a degree of independence that is tough to wrap your head around.

I've had a few parents tell me they've sat down with their teen to draw up a "New Driver Contract" that both the sixteen-year-old and the parents sign. Although "contract" seemed a little over the top at first, I actually came around to the idea of sitting down, as adults and "almost adults" to talk through EVERYTHING before the teen heads off on his or her own. Getting everything discussed out in the open can save a lot of headaches and arguments down the line.

I found several contracts, ready-made and available for download, on several sites after a quick search. Obviously, it makes the most sense to tailor this to your specific household. However, nearly all included a list of what the teen agrees to do. 

These guidelines seem standard:
  • Always wear a seat belt.
  • Drive with both hands on the wheel.
  • Obey all traffic rules, including lights, posted signs, and speed limits.
  • Have no passengers without permission.
  • No phone use while driving (even hands free is not appropriate for a brand new driver - split focus is not a good idea).
  • Call parents for a pickup if in ANY way impaired (the obvious substances, but also overly emotional or tired).
  • Drive only when given permission to use the car.
  • Pay for any tickets or fines and agree to lose driving privileges for a certain amount of time.
  • Maintain schoolwork, whatever is expected, or lose privileges until grades are up.
  • Obey family rules - curfew, dating, household responsibilities and overall behavior, or lose privileges.
  • Fill the car with gas if used up (several had specific dollar or gallon requirements depending on how much driving was done, but obviously this varies widely).
  • Keep the car clean.
  • Not let anyone else drive the car without parental permission.

After signing, most included a section for the parent to sign, with something to the effect of:
  • Be an example of safe driving.
  • Trust, until a reason is given to take that trust away.
  • Agree that you will be their backup if they don't feel safe to drive, no questions asked.

Trusting a new driver can be a scary thing, but it can also be a very special milestone.


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