A teenager’s sweet sixteen is such a momentous event that MTV has an entire series devoted to airing a young person’s party celebrating the occasion. While most teens don’t experience such extravagance, all of them become eligible for one major milestone: a driver’s license.
You may remember that feeling yourself – freedom to go wherever you please, on your own schedule and with whomever you choose – and perhaps that’s what is most terrifying: you remember how you drove as a teen. This may give you the urge to convince them to hold off getting a license.
Teens take driving risks their first year
There is some reason to be concerned: research shows that a teen’s crash risk is highest during the first three months after they receive their drivers’ license. In fact, their risk of being involved in a collision is eight times higher in the first three months post-license than the previous three months on their learner’s permit.
The same study showed that teens had a higher risky driving rate in favorable conditions, during daytime or on dry roads, than in less favorable conditions. So, for parents who might ask their teens to wait until after the snow is gone to start driving, it is worth reconsidering – teens seem more likely to practice safe when conditions aren’t ideal, which could establish positive patterns.
Waiting to drive
Some parents may not have to worry about their teens driving as soon as their 16th birthday arrives: Many teens are opting to waiting to apply for a license. Between 1996 and 2015, the share of high school seniors with a driver’s license dropped by nearly 14 percent, from 85.3 percent to 71.5 percent.
Some of this is due to the decline of teenage employment, but some also point to the ubiquity of ride-sharing services that keep teens from needing a vehicle. Tougher restrictions on young drivers have also potentially led to the decline.
Talk to your teens
If you are worried about your teenager’s safety on the road, it may be worth talking to them about if they want to apply for a driver’s license right away, and if so, why they would like to do so. They may find that even though they can, they don’t have the interest yet.
You can’t prevent your child from being involved in an accident, as there is nothing to be done about other bad drivers, but you can have an honest conversation about road safety and their transportation needs to determine the right age for them to get behind the wheel on their own.