As the parent of a teenage boy who is about to get his driver’s license, I began to think about the fact that I have not been specific enough about my expectations and the unyielding rules that will apply to his operation of a motor vehicle.
We have discussed the fact that this is a privilege and not a right and that he will soon be in a position where, if he is not careful, he could run the risk of seriously injuring himself, someone else or even worse.
We have also discussed the risks that cause most teen driving accidents: inexperience; immaturity; speeding; having other passengers in the vehicle; driving distractions including talking on the cell phone, texting, eating, drinking, playing music or riding with an unrestrained family pet; drug and alcohol use; and not being incredibly vigilant in the operation of our vehicle and by not practicing defensive driving.
There are so many other issues we did not discuss that need to be addressed, such as:
- Does he need to maintain a certain grade point average in school to be able to drive and if so what?
- What expenses will he be responsible for?
- What restrictions regarding hours of operation, weather conditions, and the number of passengers are to apply?
- What are the hard and fast penalties for having anyone enter the vehicle that has drugs or alcohol?
- What are the unyielding penalties if he ever consumes alcohol or does drugs and then operates the vehicle?
- What are the penalties for any moving violation which he receives?
- What happens if the he causes property damages or injures someone in an accident?
- What happens if he needs to call for alternative transportation to avoid either riding in or driving a vehicle where alcohol or drugs are involved?
After considerable thought, I decided the best way to memorialize these requirements with no room for misunderstanding was to draft a Parent Teen Driver Contract which sets forth all of the rules and penalties for not following the requirements that are specifically set forth in the contract.
I sat down with my son to fully review these requirements and to once again explain to him the great responsibilities that come with operating an object of potential death and destruction. I fully reviewed all of the terms, the reasons for their imposition and the consequences for violating any such rule.
I also explained that if he ever operated a motor vehicle after drinking alcohol or doing drugs his privilege to operate any motor vehicle, exclusive of what the court system or the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles does, would be permanently revoked for the duration of his high school career.
One great benefit of the contract is that it allows me, once again, to fully explain each rule, the reason for the rule and the consequences that result from any violation. It allows me to stress the profound importance of the rules, and the formality of signing the contract reinforces this fact.
Despite understanding the reasons for its imposition, I was met with the initial resistance from my son in being required to sign a seemingly onerous document. I told my son that he did not have to sign it but that it was a requirement for operating any of our motor vehicles.
After further discussion, it was signed.
The contract should provide one more safeguard in making my son a better driver and a more vigilant and defensive operator -- plus, it will help my wife and me to feel just a little better knowing that we have taken this collaborative step in reinforcing these important considerations.
Download a FREE copy of the Teen and Parent/Guardian Driver Contract.
Richard P. Hastings is a Connecticut personal injury lawyer at Hastings, Cohan & Walsh, LLP, with offices throughout the state. He has been named a Connecticut Super Lawyer and is the author of the books: "The Crash Course on Child Injury Claims"; "The Crash Course on Personal Injury Claims in Connecticut"; and "The Crash Course on Motorcycle Accidents." He can be reached at 1(888)CTLAW-00 or by visiting www.hcwlaw.com.