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Encouraging Heroes. You can be one too.

Earning a driver’s license is a milestone for a teenager that represents a major step toward independence. After my teens got their first driver’s license, they were eager to take over the keys and drive all over town to visit their friends. However, I quickly discovered that there were some things teenagers simply take for granted about driving – no wonder car insurance companies categorize young drivers as high risk. Here are the top seven things you will need to discuss with your new driver so that they can better handle their new responsibilities while respecting the privileges that earning a driver’s license provides for their growing independence.

1. Driving is a Privilege: After earning a driver’s license, teens are often pumped full of excitement regarding their new status as a legal driver. Before you toss your teen the keys, make sure to outline the rules you have set forth regarding when they can use the car and how far they are allowed to drive. It is also a good idea to mention consequences should they receive a citation or have an accident.

2. A Reliable Vehicle Requires Maintenance: Over the years, your teenager may not have noticed all of the maintenance you must do on a car to keep it in working order. Teach your teen how to check fluid levels and monitor the warning lights on the dashboard. Then, explain how often the vehicle requires oil changes and tune-ups so they understand the full responsibility of owing their vehicle.

3. Fuel Costs Money: Although your teenager will want to drive all over town, they may quickly discover that filling up with fuel can drain their pocketbook. Talk to your teen about how to reduce fuel expenses by carefully planning their route and only driving when it is necessary.

4. Road Hazards can Occur Suddenly: Most teenagers have a unique sense of invincibility that does not go away until they hit their twenties. Therefore, share some of the common road hazards that can occur without warning on the road, and discuss on to prevent and handle these situations.

5. Vehicle Technology Must be Respected: Cell phones, radios and other forms of vehicular technology can offer tempting distractions for teens. Discuss with your teen now how they should never text and drive. Be sure they understand that these distractions can lead to accidents and offer solutions for how to handle the use of technology. For example, a teenager who needs to look up directions should be encouraged to park in a safe location before turning on their devices.

6. The True Cost of Owning a Car: On the surface, owning a car may look simple to a teenager. However, most teenagers are surprised to discover the hidden costs of owning a car. Insurance, registration and inspection fees can all add up to a teenager when they are unprepared. Make sure your teen knows how to save for these expenses so that they are always in compliance with state and local laws.

7. Always be Prepared for Emergencies: Up until now, your teenager has been protected by your guidance; however, once they are on the road, your teenager will need to know how to handle emergencies on their own. Discuss what to do in the event of an accident, how to find a safe place to park in hazardous weather and how to prepare a roadside emergency kit that will help them get by until help arrives.

After they have earned their driver’s license, teenagers still have some growing up to do as they learn how to maneuver their vehicle in an adult world. By talking to your teen about the things they most commonly take for granted, you can be sure they will be safe as they drive independently on public roads.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents of new drivers.