How do you know when your teen is ready to drive alone? You know your child best. Your instincts are probably the best judge of all. Remember, even if your teen is legally old enough to get a license, it is your decision about whether or not he or she is ready.

Think about these questions:

  1. Has my teen had enough practice, in varying conditions, so that we are both confident with his or her ability to handle most situations?
  2. Has he shown that he can detect hazards and react to them quickly?
  3. Have I noticed that scanning for hazards has become habit for him or her?
  4. Does your teen always wear a seat belt and remind others to do so?
  5. Does he not use his cell phone or text message while driving?
  6. Does he wait to pull over to handle distractions or situations that take his eyes away from the road?
  7. Do I think he'll act the same when I'm not with him?
  8. Does he speed or drive aggressively?
  9. Will he know to pull over if upset, frustrated or angry?
  10. Has he exhibited responsibility in other areas of his life and do I trust him to drive my car responsibly?
If you think your teen needs more time and practice before driving alone, talk to him or her about the reasons why. One possible way to handle it is to make a deal that he or she can get a license, but you don't want him or her driving alone in certain situations. These are all things you can address ahead of time with the parent/teen agreement.

Now that your teen is licensed

When your teen is ready for independent driving, make sure you set and review house rules before trips in order to help him or her avoid the risky conditions, especially during the first six months after getting his license. Place limits on situations that increase risks, such as:

  • Carrying multiple passengers (for at least the first year of licensure, no passengers under 25 should be allowed without an adult present)
  • Driving in poor weather
  • Driving on certain roads
  • Driving at night (driving alone after 9pm should not be allowed until after the first six months of independent driving.)