Limits for Teen Drivers

Dear Sara,

My daughter is fifteen, almost sixteen, and is very anxious to drive. I have let her try it out in my car in the parking lot at school and she scares me. She will be eligible for a learners permit soon and I really dread it. She thinks that when she’s a senior she should have her own car. This is not going to happen. I plan to have her take a drivers training class but she thinks this is totally unnecessary. I also feel that I will have less control if she starts to drive and I’m not sure that I can trust her out on her own. She is going to be angry when I set limits on her driving. How do I handle this?

Dear Chuck,

This is your daughter. You have a perfect right to set limits. She has to follow your rules and she will probably be mad at you for a lot of things. This is her way of trying to get her own way. She can either do things your way or no license.

It sounds like she thinks she will be totally independent if she has her own car. How does she plan to pay for it or the gas and insurance? The insurance for teen drivers is probably pretty high. The rate would probably be better if she takes the drivers training class. Your daughter doesn’t sound very mature. You are right to slow her down.

Good luck.


  1. Diana Macdonald says:

    Great advice!!! We didn’t give a car to our daughters. They had to pay for half the cost of the car they wanted, we paid the rest. They also paid for the insurance, the gas, and any & all repairs. That way they were careful drivers and took better car of their cars!!!

  2. Sounds like this girl has an attitude problem.
    I taught Driver Training for several years. My suggestion would be to let her wait until she is 18 to get her license. She sounds VERY spoiled to put it mildly.
    Good luck, you will need it unless you set strict limits.

  3. My Dad told my brother he could have a car as soon as he earned enough money to buy one. So he worked all sorts of jobs & finally saved enoughto buy a second hand car. He was so excited, until Dad broke the news to him that he couldn’t drive it until he earned more to pay for the insurance. After that he had to pay for gas Great life lesson. It also gave him a respect for keeping up his purchase. He didn’t drive much at first because he couldn’t afford it. And no one was having to be the bad guy. Oh, had to add he had to keep his grades up b/c his insurance rate was dependent on maintaining a certain grade average!

  4. Sara you are on the money – who is running the show there? Sure isn’t the kid. The kid is doing – act like how you want it to be and it will. Dad needs to sit her down and explain in detail how things are and will be. Young folks with no discipline are usually young unwed mothers. Unwed is a near sacrilege – it should once again be a stigma. if this girl continues on her present path, were I her parent I would explain the more she acts out the more disappears form her toy box. If she makes it apparent she won’t play along then it is time to raise YOUR game. NEVER let the kid run the show – if you do you are STUPID – and that is pretty simple..

  5. I’m 84 years old, and I always give the right of way to drivers. I wonder how many of those 5,000+ pedestrians killed were hit by angry drivers? I wouldn’t be surprised to see the number quadruple in the near future.

  6. Chuck,

    I had a similar issue with my granddaughter at that age. She took drivers education through her high school. The instructor took them out approximately three times. The school did more teaching the rules as oppose to the student getting behind the wheel. The school instructed parents to allow the student/child to practice driving at least 3 hours a week. Once I was convinced that she had successfully learned the rules of the road, I allowed her to drive my car with me in it. I took it on my own to work with her on a regular basis (more that 3 hours a week). I exposed her to everything from practicing how to turn a corner, observing posted speed limits, how to know you are in your lane and not others, driving at nighttime, driving in heavy traffic, made her drive on highways to experience the difference between highway and city street driving etc… I worked with her until I no longer felt afraid/scared when she was behind the wheel.

  7. Treat her like a child until she proves she isn’t. A summer job gives her income that she is required to put back toward the purchase of a car would be a good start. If she is a good student, a part-time job during school would also be a good source of learning responsibility. I suppose your financial situation will at least partially decide what you do, but requiring that she pays a given percentage of whatever car she eventually gets would put the value of a car in perspective. Virtually all first cars will be trashed mechanically or wrecked, so I certainly would not consider a new car for her first. Requiring her to pay a percentage of insurance and upkeep would also be a good plan. I have to ask if this was your son instead of your daughter, would you already be requiring what I suggested?

  8. Chuck,
    As a mom of 2 boys, the oldest at 20 and the youngest at 16 I’ve learned a little from the driving thing.
    Both boys have ADHD. The oldest really struggled in school and with wise decisions. We did not let him
    drive until he was 18 and healthier mentally. That being said, after paying for a drivers ed course, and with little experience, he said at 18 he was legal to get a drivers license (against our wishes). We told him we would not let him drive the car or insure him until we felt he had more experience. He got the license anyway, and triple rolled his wifes vehicle at 85 mph, 3 days after getting married. Miraculously he and his new bride of walked away unhurt (the car was totaled) They walked, road buses or begged rides for two years after that.
    Lesson from that for future reference would be that if possible do get them their permit, drivers ed and as much experience as possible before they are legal to drive on their own. It doesn’t mean they can have their own car. Also, remember you are paying for medical insurance until they turn 26 yrs. old. You are also the parent, setting the rules. She/he drives when they obey the rules you set. Also, many insurance companies charge more for teens if their grades are not kept at a certain level, because they are more risk.
    The 16 yr old did start to drive with drivers ed, permit and also with us. When he started sophomore school year he was overwhelmed with schoolwork and couldn’t get focused on the driving. We have put the driving aside until this summer when hopefully he can focus more.
    Hope that helps…

  9. I just flat out told my daughters that they could get a drivers (learners) permit when they were 16, but first had to take the school’s driver training class before they could get a license. This meant they had one year under supervision before they were free on the road. They complained that only seniors got to take drivers training during the school year. Not my problem and I made it stick. They therefore got to drive in all kinds of traffic and weather: city streets, rural roads, high speed (NYS Thruway and interstate), dry, hot, cold, wet, snow. I had two cars, one automatic, one stick shift. They started in the school parking lot with the stick shift. They got to see all kinds of stupid drivers. Just stick to your guns, it will be worth it. I was a widower, but their mother would have backed me up 100%. BY teh way, both opted to wait two weeks after taking teh state driving test to get their license, so on their August birthdays, they got a full license, not a junior with restrictions.

  10. Donald Mccormick says:

    I agree that the NOW people have SEEMINGLY LOST the will to take the responsibility for their OWN ACTIONS and to TRY to BLAME OTHERS for any trouble they caused.
    ALSO with these SMART PHONES they are almost ALWAYS looking down at their PHONE instead of watching the area around them.

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