Allowing your teen to drive to school is not a decision to take lightly. The expense and safety concerns might be insurmountable for your family, but, if they can be overcome, your teen will enjoy the freedom that comes with having a car at his disposal and you might enjoy the extra time you have because you're no longer tied to your teen's schedule. Carefully evaluate all the pros and cons before reaching your decision.
1. Safety Concerns
Teen drivers are at greater risk of serious crashes than experienced drivers. Driving to school every day exposes them to higher risk because they're on the road regularly. Experts with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention find that these risks increase even more with each additional teen passenger in the car. Teens are often sleep deprived, so driving to school early in the morning means they're on the road when their reaction time is slower. Drop by any high school at the end of the day and see for yourself how teen drivers cram their friends into the vehicle, squealing tires as they speed out of the parking lot.
2. Other Possible Disadvantages
Teens with a car at their disposal might be more tempted to cut a class to go joyriding with friends. If your teen is one of a select few with access to a car during the school day, he might be pressured to give lifts to friends. Conversely, he might find himself the victim of resentment and jealously. The expense of a third car in the family, or just the added insurance, repairs and maintenance costs will be much greater than the cost of taking the bus to school.
3. Teen Time-Saving and Convenience
Despite the disadvantages, most teens welcome the opportunity to drive to school because of the additional freedom. Senior students who have spare periods in their timetables are able to leave the school campus and maximize the time saved not waiting for buses. They can go directly to their extracurricular sporting events or after-school appointments. This might increase their participation in such events. The time saved getting to school in the morning can mean a few extra minutes of valued sleep so they'll be more rested and ready to study.
4. Parental Time-Saving and Convenience
Don't forget the extra time you'll find you have when you no longer need to worry about chauffeuring your teen to and from school every day. When your teen is driving to school every day, you'll probably decide to have him take over some of your errands, such as picking up groceries or even a younger sibling. If your teen has many after school activities that are spread out across town, you'll find yourself with extra hours in your life. Last-minute changes to your teen's schedule will no longer disrupt your daily routine, as he'll be able to handle these on his own.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Teen Drivers
- Students Against Driving Drunk (SADD): 2004 Teen Driving Study Key Messages
- Houghton Mifflin English: Why Teenagers Need Cars
- BCAA Road Safety Foundation: Teenagers and Crashes – The Facts
- Chicago Tribune: Teen Texting at the Wheel Tied to More Driving Risks
- PBS Frontline: Inside the Teenage Brain
- Fox Business: A Parent's Guide to Insuring a Teen Driver
- The Oracle: Owning a Car During High School is Beneficial for Teenagers
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