Attached as promised, as a PDF, is a sample, filled-out version of a new national model for a teen driver contract. I recruited a teenager I know to be the “Teen Driver” (initials “TD”) and a mother I know (really well, in fact) to be the “Mother / Guardian” (“MG”). I filled in the “Dad / Guardian” (“DG”) parts. So, attached is what this model, negotiated and filled in by a family, would look like.
Confession: when I started out seven weeks ago with Part 1 of this series, I had a different vision of what this model contract would look like when done, but I learned a great deal from the drafting process and comments sent by readers of this blog. But I am now more convinced than ever that our collective effort has produced a model that builds and improves on other teen driver contracts available on-line. Specifically, this model offers the following combination of improvements:
- A statement of purpose;
- A reminder that the contract needs to be consistent with your state’s law;
- A recommendation to introduce the contract when our teen obtains a learner’s permit and finalize it when he or she gets a full license (that is, the right to drive solo);
- Acknowledgements, initialed separately by the teen driver and each supervising adult, of each of the critical dangers of teen driving;
- A separate acknowledgement, initialed by supervising adults (to show teens that this contract is a two-way street) of their positions as role models and teachers of safe driving habits;
- A clear statement against joyriding, by requiring a “driving plan”;
- A reminder that adult supervision of teen driving is an on-going, day-by-day, circumstance-by-circumstance task that requires judgment;
- A suspension period of all driving for the most serious violations, and a period of no solo driving for other misconduct;
- A specific teen driver promise to pull over and stop safely before texting or using a cell phone;
- Recognition that misconduct reports can come to supervising adults from a variety of sources;
- Clear times and procedures for curfews and use of any exceptions;
- A minimum time period (one year suggested) for the contract, as opposed to “let’s try this for a few weeks and then we’ll re-negotiate”;
- A procedure for keys, license, and the vehicle if driving is suspended or limited;
- The option to use a trusted third party (neighbor, relative, etc.) to resolve disputes;
- Identification of technology to be used;
- A statement of who will pay for what portion of the expenses; and
- Most importantly, a COMMITMENT to safety and following the terms of the contract.
In summary, in this model I have tried to take the best features of existing teen driver contracts and improve upon them, to better reflect the current best practices that supervising adults should use with their teen drivers.
I hope this new model will be a useful tool for teens and parents.