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Teenagers and their parent's car

Learning to drive is a rite of passage for many teenagers, a sign that they are edging ever closer to adulthood. It is a part of being independent, no longer reliant on parents to ferry them around, teenagers can make a lot more of their own decisions if they can drive a car. As a parent it can be of benefit too; the teenager who drives can take their younger brothers and sisters to soccer practice, dance class, school.

They can do the grocery shopping, collect dry-cleaning, and take the cat to the vet. The ability to drive a car is worth a lot to a teenager's self-esteem and improves their standing with their peers, closely followed by the desire to own a car. This is not always possible, but a tolerant parent will lend their teenager their car, as long as the teenager puts petrol in it, and of course doesn't crash it!

However, teenagers sometimes do really stupid things as a result of peer pressure, and "borrowing" mum or dad's car is a fairly common example of this stupidity. For boys, a car is often a tool in the dating game; it is true that girls are more likely to prefer a guy with a car, because he can take her to better places than a guy without one. So, if a teenage boy has friends who want to go to a new place the other side of town, or simply drive around looking at girls walking the promenade, he will be under pressure to borrow the car.

Sometimes a parent is out themselves and the car gets borrowed, without them knowing on the basis that what the parent does not know will not hurt them! Other times, the parents may be away for the weekend, and have left the keys, for the car to be used in their absence, with permission, which is fine, until something happens to it.

Your teenager is likely to be a careful driver with you or siblings in the car. Daytime driving is very different from night time and a car full of noisy friends all out to have fun. A car full of boisterous teenagers, loud music and high spirits is a distracting environment for a seasoned driver, and your teenager is a novice. The statistics show that the risk of being involved in a car accident is highest for teenage drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 and four times higher for that age group than any other. The teenager who crashes their parent's car is not a new phenomenon, but the percentage of road deaths for this age group is too high to be ignored.

Be very angry with the teenager who borrows your car without permission; limit their evening driving with friends until they are more experienced and enroll them in advanced driving courses. They may think you are being a mean old fogey, but you will know you are keeping them safe!

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