Why I think teen driving restrictions stink

Is your teen getting ready to drive? Check the driver’s license restrictions in your state — she may not be allowed to take friends to the mall for a full year.

My daughter is learning to drive. She’s got her driver’s permit, some cool shades and the determination that one day soon she can drive herself to the mall. Since I’m the parent — and the one teaching her to drive — shouldn’t I get to tell her when she can take friends in her car? According to the California DMV, it’s their job.

When we were teens, the minute you snagged the coveted driver’s license you took off to pick up your friends. The mall? The beach? It didn’t matter because you had instant maturity and independence — or so it seemed. The reality of teens driving with friends in the car is that they are at a greater risk of being in a crash. The California DMV shares that drivers between the ages of 16 and 17 are 3.6 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash when they are driving with passengers — and that risk increases as the number of passengers increases. In California the license holder “must be accompanied and supervised by a licensed parent, guardian or other licensed driver 25 years of age or older or a licensed or certified driving instructor when you transport passengers under 20 years of age at any time, for the first 12 months.”

So obviously driver’s license restrictions make sense from a safety standpoint — don’t get me wrong. I worry constantly about my kids driving and hope that neither of them is ever in a serious car crash. But there are three reasons why I don’t like these restrictions.

None of the other parents obey them. Wait, what? That’s right… very few of the parents I know will enforce the “no friends in the car” law. And before you go all “If your friends jumped off a bridge… ” on me, hear me out. If my kid is one of the only kids not allowed to drive friends around she isn’t likely to take the restrictions seriously. And when it comes time for the Friday night football game, what will they do? All of these kids will pile into one driver’s car anyway. So we not only have to enforce the rule that she can’t drive friends, but that she can’t be driven by friends, either. That’s a bucket of cold water on your social life.

My kid, my rules. I wouldn’t have let my kids take their driver’s license test if I didn’t think they were 100 percent prepared to drive. And if I feel that my daughter is a capable and safe enough driver to give her BFF a ride home from school, I think I should be able to decide that for my own family. Most families with younger siblings use this argument when allowing their new drivers to cart the little ones around to school, karate or dance lessons.

Driving restrictions are bad for the environment. That sounds like a stretch, but it bugs me. New drivers used to be able to all pile into a few cars and head to the football game or debate team meeting. Now, those same 10 kids need to drive 10 separate cars, all arriving at the same destination and fighting for the same parking spaces. And when they all leave, that’s 10 times the number of new drivers on the road to worry about.

Yes, we obey the driving restrictions in our house — but that doesn’t mean I can’t call them stupid.

More on teens

Hookup culture may be making your teen depressed
7 Things your high school freshman needs to know
How to maintain a healthy relationship with your teen


Comments are closed.