Before you hand your teen the keys

It's inevitable. Your kids are going to want your car keys. It's rare that your teen is going to fully appreciate the minutia of your insurance policy (which you may also pay for), so it's crucial to have a few quick conversations with them to get on the same page, especially once they can drive solo.

What safe driving looks like

We’ve all seen it – people casually multitasking while driving down the freeway in rush hour: applying makeup, eating breakfast, making phone calls, changing the song on their playlist, and – the big one – texting. Inform your teens about the distracted driving laws in your province or territory, and paint a vivid picture for them.

What identification is mandatory and why

Remind your teen to carry their driver’s, vehicle registration, and insurance information at all times in the car. They’ll need it if they get pulled over or are involved in a collision. It also doesn’t hurt to carry their health card, emergency contact information, and charged cell phone (stowed away in the glove compartment, of course) on hand just in case.

Why boring cars make for safer drivers

Sure, it doesn’t do much for their “cool” reputation at school, but there’s a good reason why the reliable family sedan may be the perfect choice to be his/her first car. A newer, more expensive vehicle may drive up your premiums because they can cost more to repair or replace. It may not seem like a big deal now, but driving a “boring” vehicle instead of a fast sports car can indirectly remove the temptation to indulge an inner speed demon. Promoting safer driving habits early on can improve their driver safety rating over time and potentially save them money once they move out and start buying their own insurance.

Why insurance is important

Auto insurance helps pay for any costs associated with injuries, property damage, and even casualties. If you or your teen are involved in an accident, your insurance policy really is worth every penny because any compensation allocated after you make a claim helps you recover or get the treatments that you – or the person you hurt – need. One exception is the province of Québec, where bodily injuries are not covered by private insurance policies, but by the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ). This is why you need insurance before you can legally drive (getting added to a parent’s insurance policy also counts). It’s one of those things you hope you never have to use, but it gives you peace of mind knowing you’re covered.

Passengers can be a distraction

All drivers with underage passengers need to understand that they’re responsible for everyone’s well-being – not just putting on a good playlist. If a passenger’s behaviour is distracting, it’s the driver’s responsibility to tell them what’s acceptable so that they can drive everyone safely to their destination.

Allowing your teen to drive can free up a lot of your time and energy while giving them the freedom, independence, and real-world experience they both crave and need. Driver safety is an ongoing conversation but getting off to a solid start can create a strong driver for life.

SOURCES
RCMP - Distracted Driving: http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/cycp-cpcj/dd-dv/index-eng.htm
Canadian Family Physician - Cell Phone Use While Driving: http://www.cfp.ca/content/59/7/723.full
SAAQ - Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec: https://saaq.gouv.qc.ca/en/
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada Youth and Impaired Driving Statistics: http://madd.ca/pages/programs/youth-services/statistics-links/
Canada Safety Council: https://canadasafetycouncil.org/traffic-safety/canada-s-blood-alcohol-laws-among-strictest-western-world
Change the Conversation: http://changetheconversation.ca/drinking_and_driving_facts/nwt_nunavut_table.php

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