(BLACK PR WIRE) – That magic 16th birthday arrives, and soon the question is asked: “Can I borrow the car tonight?” Teenagers happily anticipate that moment, but their parents may dread it. Sixteen is the legal driving age in most states, though it is usually follows one year of driving with a learner’s permit, which requires adult accompaniment and driver’s education courses.
While most teenage drivers become responsible adult drivers, there is good reason for parents to be concerned. Government agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have both found in their studies that motor vehicle crashes are the second leading cause of death for African American teenagers and young adults. While drug and alcohol use is a factor in many traffic accidents, other times it is the result of a split-second’s worth of not paying full attention to driving. Teenagers may be distracted while talking to their passenger friends, adjusting hair, clothes or makeup, eating, or changing the radio. They also tend to take risks with their friends that they would not take alone or with an adult.
So, how should parents decide if their teenager is ready to get behind the wheel alone? First, consider his or her overall character. Does your teenager regularly get homework and school assignments done without being reminded? Would you fully trust your teenager to be home alone if you had to be gone overnight? Is your teenager truthful and respectful to others? Even if the answer to these questions is yes, you also must still assess your teenager’s driving ability. The year between your teenager receiving a learner’s permit and a regular license will require time and patience from both of you in extensive practice driving. You may have other issues to discuss, such as financial costs, allowing friends in the car and driving curfews.
It goes without saying that even after considering all these factors, you as a parent make the final decision on whether or not your teenager drives. Under 18 and under your roof means they are under your rules. But a parent’s supervision and guidance combined with a teenager’s responsibility can successfully help that teenager navigate the road to adulthood.