Pros & Cons of Teens Driving to School

Happy People in the Car
Four teenaged friends in a car. (Image: William Perugini/iStock/Getty Images)

High schools often allow teenagers to drive to school as long as they have a valid driver's license and get permission from their parents. Some schools require students to take a short school-mandated course to learn which parking lots are available and how traffic patterns flow on campus. Some schools charge a parking fee and require students to display a parking sticker or permit. There are both benefits and disadvantages to allowing your teenager to drive to school.

Convenience

Allowing your teen to drive to school is convenient. You don't have to take her to school before work, create complicated schedules to ensure your teenager and younger children get to school on time or pick them up when school is over. Your teen can also drive to extracurricular activities, athletic games and practices. The days of running a home taxi service will be over and you won't have to act as the chauffeur for school-related activities, according to SafeTeenDrivingClub.org.

Driving Practice

Your teen can gain valuable driving experience by driving to and from school every day. The route is familiar, so you don't have to worry that she'll get lost or wind up in the wrong lane. You also have reassurance that the school will notify you if your teen doesn't show up for school or is marked absent for her first-period class. Driving to school is usually during daylight hours, so your teen won't have to face the glare of headlights or danger that might be obstructed by darkness. However, trips to school are generally during the rush hour so your teen needs to take it slow and leave an appropriate space cushion.

Safety

Driving to school presents some safety concerns. In 2010, seven teens ages 16 to 19 died every day from motor vehicle injuries. In addition, teen drivers 16 to 19 were three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Of course, those statistics represent more than just driving to school and detail both day and nighttime trips, including those that may have involved alcohol.

Truancy

Allowing your teen to drive to school can have a negative impact on her school attendance. Eighteen states link student drivers to habitual school absence, according to a 2013 report by the Nevada Senate Education Committee. If your teen talks about skipping school or you receive truancy notifications, consider taking away her driving privileges. Having a car on campus makes it much easier to meet up with graduates or hook up with other high school students who are also ditching school.

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