How can I get my 16 year old son to drive more slowly?

I believe the most important factor is how you drive

“To me, the idea of ruling your son with ultimatums and telling him you’ll be using technology to verify he’s obeying the rules only reinforces to him that you do not believe or trust him.”

What you are not bearing in mind, Joe, is that adolescents actually do want limits to be imposed by their parents, even if they do not verbalize it and if they whine that you are, “ruining”, their lives when limits are imposed.

When adolescents screw-up, whether it is in terms of academics, problems with the law, becoming involved in substance abuse, or in terms of any type of negative behavior, when they are interviewed after the fact, they consistently tell the interviewer that they wished that their parents had imposed limits on them. One of the thoughts that I heard uttered time after time was some version of, “at least then I would know that they loved me, instead of just wanting to be my friend”.

Parents should not try to compete for the title of, “best pal”, and should ignore the wails of, “You’re ruining my life”. Instead, they should think back to their own irresponsible behaviors when they were kids, and impose appropriate limits in an attempt to prevent their kids from making similar mistakes.

My father, who was the most responsible, law-abiding man you can imagine, revealed to me in his later years that he had once, “borrowed”, his father’s car without permission, and w/o benefit of a driver’s license. (The car in question was a performance-oriented National touring car that his father had bought after that make won the Indy 500 in the early days of that race)

Luckily, he did not injure himself or anyone else when he took that car for a high-speed spin, but his father was NOT happy and placed appropriate restrictions on him, and as a result, my father never repeated this type of irresponsible behavior. However, my father did verbalize that he wished his father had paid more attention to him, and had placed limits on him prior to that adventure with his father’s “hot” National touring car.

The most important thing is to communicate that you are doing what you are doing out of a spirit of love, and not to come across as a dictator giving ultimatums. An adolescent, whose impulse control is not yet fully developed, does need to have restrictions placed on him, and by explaining why you are doing something, there should be an internalized recognition on the part of the teenager that there is a good reason for placing restrictions on him–even if he does not acknowledge it.

If you differ with my philosophy, that is your privilege, but since my background includes 35 years of experience in counseling teenagers and parents, you should bear in mind that my approach was honed by those decades of experience. Yelling at an adolescent–either as an attempt at preventing negative behavior, or after the fact–is not likely to be effective. Instead, a parent has to calmly & lovingly explain why he is doing what he is doing, and the parent also has to ignore the inevitable protests, lest he winds up with a kid who thinks that Dad is his best buddy, rather than someone who is trying to keep him alive and out of trouble.

No problem VDC. There is no right or wrong in this discussion. We all have our background and experiences that shape our views.

First speeding ticket, 90 day Dad imposed loss of driving privilege…Second speeding ticket, all family driving support revoked…car, insurance, everything.


I don’t entirely agree with you

My dad was an extremely safe and conservative driver

He taught my brother and I to drive

I was a pretty good driver

My brother was a reckless, lead-footed terror who drove every car like he stole it

I believe a lot depends on the maturity of the kid who is learning to drive

I think I agree with db4690. Same parents but my sister drove like she was nuts-fast, left lane, close to parked cars, etc. I wouldn’t ride with her. I hear so often that “this is the way I was raised and that’s the way I’m raising my kids”. There is no reason we need to repeat the mistakes of our folks and just because they did it some way doesn’t make it right. We forge our own path learning from the past and our own mistakes. I was about 13 when I did my first body repair so it was Dad getting the dents and me fixing them rather than the other way around.

Parenting styles are always a hot button issue. This one hasn’t been discussed here in a loooooooong time.

Show him through your own driving. That will help some. Just be aware that he really isn’t able to think through the consequences. He isn’t old enough yet. Hit the library and check out “Why Do They Act That Way” and read about it. If you get an argument (duh), remind home that you love him and want home to be safe.

Our son attended a military academy for his high school years and took driver training at the academy. During the summer, he got a job in the kitchen at the academy when the academy ran camps for younger children. Our son lived with a relative and had a 15 mile drive to work. I furnished a car for him, but he had to buy the gas from his earnings. I had him sign a contract as to how he would drive and how he was to maintain the car. Breaking the contract was a loss of his driving privilege and the end of the job. His military school training and holding the summer job gave him a sense of responsibility. He is now almost 40 and has a spotless driving record.

Some of you have much more confidence in government run programs, in this case, driver’s ed, than I do. I wanted my kids to have at least 1,000 miles experience before driver’s ed. Day; night; country; city; Interstate; ice; snow; rain; wind.

Driver’s Ed simply does not have enough time behind the wheel to be any good.

When they started driving, which came after passing the written test, I explained that driving is the second biggest responsibility in a person’s life, right after their fertility.

I did shout at them. My wife complained at me, but I told her, "So, I am supposed to say, ‘Pretty please did you notice you just ran over the nun in that cross walk?’ "

They became great drivers, and both can take off and drive a 3,000 or 5,000 mile cross country trip with no sweat. As well as drive day; night; country; city; interstate; ice; snow; rain; wind.

In 1992, I helped my daughter move her stuff to McAllen, maybe 1500 miles from home. When we got to Dallas (we didn’t yet know to go through Fort Worth, or maybe that choice didn’t exist them) and the horrid urban traffic, I bailed. And, realized that a major thing had happened. I had more confidence in her driving there, than doing it myself. Sort of a passing of the baton to the next generation. I was very proud of her.

She married an absolutely great guy. But, he was not used to long trips. To him the 265 miles to San Antonio was like a trip around the world. To her, it was the first restroom break. Her first trip to the Quad-cities after they got married, I would be surprised if he were able to sleep the whole time she was gone, heh, heh.

The device VDC is talking about is called the ‘CarChip’. I have one. It records 300 hours of driving, along with several parameters of choice. Very handy for diagnostic purposes.

I caught my daughter going 97 MPH for an extended period of time with it, when I had plugged it in to see if I had fixed her problem. She hadn’t been below 85 for pretty much the entire trip and made it from SWCT to Boston in two hours.
She was an adult already at that time, but I still yelled at her.
Your kids will always be your kids and you always have the right to yell at them when they act stupid. She since slowed down.

Say to him, I can see that you don’t presently have enough skill to drive by yourself. Until I’m satisfied that you can follow the speed limit, I can’t let you drive my car. I say that as a 16 year old who has managed to drive for 43 years and still be alive. From 16 to 25 I was not safe all the time. I didn’t crash but my passengers were “uneasy”. Kind of reminds me of the little girl talking about Christmas in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Something about bricks.

@irlandes, my driver’s ed class was a private company, not a local high school.

“Some of you have much more confidence in government run programs, in this case, driver’s ed, than I do”

Irlandes–In my neck of the woods, “government-run” (school-based) driver ed programs are essentially a thing of the past, and have been extinct for a couple of decades in most school districts.

"Some of you have much more confidence in government run programs, in this case, driver's ed, than I do"

I’ve NEVER lived in a state where Drivers ED was a government program. You could take drivers ed through your local high-school, but it was administered by a local drivers ed company. It was NEVER a government run program.

Do you know any police officers or wrecker drivers ?
If they’d let him ride along to any wreck calls it would give him real world, in-his-face, eye popping , first hand look at the potential results of over-sealous driving.

It did for me.
State police and newspaper raw footage and accident scene photograhy…blood , guts and all !
Put me right in my place at merely 16.

Yeah maybe. When I was about 11, my cousin ran into a bridge with his 58 Chevy convertible. He lived a couple hours but that was it. Back then the car was on display at the local gas station and I guess it always stuck, so I’m deathly afraid of car accidents.

I did not know they had privatized driver’s ed. Clearly, my kids are well into adulthood. But, I still would prefer to teach them myself if there were a need.


You can also search for car and motorcycle crashes on YouTube.

I didn’t NOT teach my sons how to drive because I simply do NOT have the patience. After a couple of early sessions, we signed them up for driver’s ed at their high school. Which did a very good job, by the way.

The driver’s ed will (Hopefully) teach them the proper driving techniques. The one my sons used was very good.

Common sense is another thing entirely. Some kids have it, some don’t, and that CAN NOT be taught in a class, no matter what anyone says. That’s up to the parents to teach, and I happen to think the DW and I did a pretty good job in that respect. All three turned out to be good responsible sensible drivers. In fact, the oldest has also turned out to be a pretty darned good machanic as well.

I never felt the need for a monitoring device. The OP, however, knows his kid best (I would think.) If he feels the kid needs tighter reins, then I’d go for it. The kid will hate it, of course. Tough. Don’t like it? there’s your bike right there. Start pedaling son. Come back for the keys when you have a change of attitude.