The period when a teen is learning to drive can be one of the most frightening and stressful in a parent’s life. It’s best to leave the bulk of the teaching to the driver’s education professionals. They don’t have the complicated history with your child that you likely do. Therefore, an hour or two behind the wheel is less likely to end in shouting and tears than if you’re the one in the passenger seat.
However, it’s up to parents to set and enforce the ground rules for their teen drivers. The state establishes some of these. For example, under Mississippi’s Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program, teens can’t drive during specified hours between late evening and early morning without an adult licensed driver in the front passenger seat.
Unlike some states, Mississippi doesn’t limit how many teen passengers a beginning driver can carry. However, it’s a good idea to establish a rule that no other teens be allowed in the car until you’re comfortable that your child is experienced and responsible enough to handle the distraction that it will undoubtedly bring.
Contrary to popular belief, most teen crashes are the result of reckless driving, including speeding and distraction rather than drugs and alcohol. Therefore, it’s crucial to address all of these issues with your new driver.
Talking, texting or using any type of social media, even if it’s hands-free, should be forbidden. So should eating, drinking a soda, applying make-up or any other type of multitasking. This is where parents can and should lead by example — even if they haven’t in the past.
It’s wise not to let teens drive in rain or other inclement weather until they’ve had enough supervised experience that you feel comfortable that they can do so safely.
No matter how conscientious teen drivers are, they often can’t respond as quickly as more experienced drivers to those on the road who make sudden, possibly illegal moves. Sometimes, no matter how skilled we are behind the wheel, we can’t avoid a crash with a driver who’s distracted, under the influence or just plain reckless.
In the blink of an eye, your life can change, possibly forever. You could be faced with extensive vehicle damage, medical bills and lost wages. That’s why you can and should determine what your legal options are for seeking compensation from the at-fault driver and their insurance company.