YOU are in the kitchen baking cookies when you realize you are out of eggs.
What a drag. You need to clean the flour off your apron, grab your purse and coat and head off to the store.
But wait. Your teen has her driver's licence. Any teen with a new licence will jump at any opportunity to take the car out. So send her off to the store. It's great, you're happy and so is she.
There are some real perks to having a teenage driver in the house. They can do the grocery shopping, take themselves to soccer practice and when they go out at night you can rest easy knowing that she is driving herself and will be careful.
When the family goes out for dinner or a family event, you have a designated driver who is thrilled to take that role.
That being said, there are some steps you want to consider before she jumps in the car. She has been watching how you behave behind the wheel since she was little so be careful to be a good role model. According to ICBC, most driving slip-ups result from lapses of attention - stay away from anything that takes your mind from the road whether it's a cellphone, food, coffee or make-up.
When your child is preparing to start the process, go over the booklet with her. It's a good chance to review the rules of the road for both of you.
It's the rare parent who can teach their teen without becoming emotional. It's a good idea to give them some lessons from a professional.
Times have changed so you should know the restrictions of the Graduated Licensing Program and make sure that your teen sticks to them. The newest restriction bans GLP drivers from using cellphones and all electronic devices while driving, including hands-free. Some of the other key restrictions of the novice stage are:
- You must always display your green 'N' sign on the back of your vehicle when driving.
- You cannot drive with any alcohol in your body.
- You are limited to one passenger (immediate family exempt) - unless you are driving with a supervisor 25 years or older who has a valid, full driver's licence.
ICBC suggests that it's best to learn how to drive on a vehicle that's a manageable size and has good visibility. Stick to an automatic transmission until your teen has mastered the basics. But I would note that not all of us have access to just such a vehicle and our kids need to learn how to handle the car they will be driving.
When you are out practising with her start on quiet roads and avoid rush-hour traffic. But once her confidence and ability improves, head out on the routes she will likely drive. She will need to learn to handle herself in all situations and it's best to learn with you giving her both support and direction.
Once she has her licence and can now go out at night with her friends, it's time to set the guidelines. What are your expectations when she uses the family car and what are the consequences if she breaks the rules? Some families like to create a written family contract and others a verbal agreement. Choose what works best with you and your teen. If she's not prepared to have this discussion, rolls her eyes and isn't paying attention, then she's likely not ready to head out in the family vehicle.
As a final bonus tip, if you're letting your teen drive your car, don't forget to check that you have the right insurance coverage. If your vehicle is rated in an experienced rate class (all drivers in a household with at least 10 years' driving experience) then the rate class will need to be changed.
Kathy Lynn is a parenting expert who is a professional speaker, broadcaster, columnist and author of Who's In Charge Anyway? and But Nobody Told Me I'd Ever Have to Leave Home. For information or to book Kathy for a speaking engagement, go to her website at www.ParentingToday.ca.