Approximately 2,700 adolescent drivers aged 16 to 19 died on U.S. roads in 2010, according to the Center for Disease Control. This age group has a three times higher risk of dying on the road than any other age group. While it can be scary to allow a teenager to drive, there are some benefits to allowing controlled, well-trained driving in this age group.
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Letting teenagers drive while they are living at home gives parents a degree of control and supervision that they will not have once their young adult moves out. Inexperience is a key factor in many accidents involving teenagers. Setting limits, such as curfews, no driving with friends in the vehicle and other restrictions, can be imposed until the teenager builds his confidence and demonstrates he is ready for more responsibility.
Teenagers who have to depend on others for rides can miss out on social and work opportunities. In addition, they can be placed at risk if they are catching rides with peers who do have drivers licenses but maybe not much driving experience. Girls may accept date invitations with boys they really are not interested in, just so they can get to the new skate rink or movie theater. Allowing teens to drive provides them with independence and the ability to have more control over where they go, with whom and for how long.
Gives Parents a Break
As teens age, they become more active. School clubs, social functions, weekend activities and after-school jobs typically require transportation. Parents are usually first on deck to provide it, and if there is more than one teenager in the house, the coming and going can become chaotic. Letting teenagers drive gives mom and dad a break as the teens take on more responsibility for getting themselves around as well as -- when they are ready -- helping with the transportation needs of younger siblings.
Great Encouragement Tool
When a teenager loses his driving privileges as a consequence, he is not a happy camper. Parents who let teenagers drive have a tool with which to motivate positive choices and behavior. School attendance, chore completion, grades and other important life elements can be directly tied to the driving privileges. The more logical the connection, the better. Few teenagers are willing to break rules when it means losing their ability to drive and be independent.