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Sample Driving Contract

A driving contract is an effective barometer to determine a beginning driver's level of driving skill, experience and maturity. A contract can be useful in other ways:

  • It can help to define expectations and eliminate any confusion.
  • If the teen has difficulty keeping the contract, it may be an indication that the young driver does not meet the appropriate maturity or experience level or there may be other underlying reasons, such as alcohol or drug use (an addict cannot keep a contract). Teenagers are able to follow rules for responsible driving, but first, they have to know the rules.

Issues/Agreements Teen-Parent Contract

Set a firm time to design the driving contract. Plan to spend about a week building your contract. Teens and parents can review the following sample contract, noting points to consider at the beginning of the discussion.

Spell out precisely driving rules and agreements for your family and any consequences for breaking the rules. "When" and "Then" statements are useful when designing contracts and when building other family policies.

Click here for a fillable/printable version of this contract.
(Note: To avoid data loss, save the contract to your computer before you begin completing it.)

Family Driving Contract

Issue 1: Curfew—What is the expectation and strategy? The Oregon Graduated Driver's License (GDL) curfew is between midnight and 5 a.m.

Rule: When
Agreement: Then

Issue 2: Safety belt use—In addition to using safety belts while driving or riding, safety belts should remain buckled when sitting in a car in a parking lot or on the side of the road.

Rule: When 
Agreement: Then

Issue 3: Operating expenses—Does the teen pay a percentage, a usage rate or all expenses? (Note: Youth who are expected to invest in driving expenses will have a better understanding of the responsibilities of the driving privilege. Example: Paying for car, gas, insurance, etc.)

Sample Rule: Teen agrees to pay 25 percent of monthly expenses, including car payment, fuel, maintenance costs, insurance premiums, registration fees, etc.
Sample Agreement: Failure to make agreed upon payment by the last day of the month will result in suspension of car privileges. If only a percentage of the amount due is paid, driving privilege and use of the car will be reduced by the unpaid percentage.

Rule: When 
Agreement: Then

Issue 4: Incidents or crashes—Should the cost of repairs affect a youth's driving privileges? Is the driving privilege suspended until the expenses are paid in full? Remember, if a teen is not allowed to drive for more than two (2) weeks, he/she requires supervised driving until they can drive without being cautioned about driving skills before being allowed to drive solo again.

If teen is at fault: Then 
If teen is not at fault: Then (keep the insurance deductible in mind) 

Issue 5: Distracted driving—Cell phone use while driving, car stereo, eating while driving, etc. Draft a strategy for each.

Cell Phone: 
Music:
Food:
Other:

Issue 6: Number of peer passengers—The GDL allows three peer passengers in the second six months of licensure. But is it safe? Remember, 65 percent of fatal crashes involving a teen had another teen driving. The driver is responsible for passenger safety. Develop a strategy for dealing with disruptive behavior. Questions for the teen driver to consider: Will you explain to your passengers your expectations before you let them into the car? Will you wait until they misbehave and then tell them the expectation and subsequent consequence? What will be the expectation/consequence?)

  1.  
    1. I will begin with ___ peer passengers.
    2. I will add peer passengers one at a time in: __ 1 month or  __ 2 month increments.
    3. If I determine that I am unable to handle two or three passengers, I will transport only the number of passengers with whom I feel comfortable. 
      ___ Agree
    4. I expect my passengers to: 
    5. If my passengers misbehave, I will do the following:
    6. If I determine I am unable to transport siblings and peers together for any reason, I will:


Issue 7: Grades—If the teen's grades drop below minimum levels to keep the insurance premium benefit, does the teen pay the total amount of the premium increase or a percentage? What is the impact on driving privileges?  Reduced? Limited? How long? Remember: Maturity is not the same as intelligence.

Rule: When 
Agreement: Then

Issue 8: Alcohol or drug use—What is the impact to the driving privilege if the teen is cited for minor-in-possession, is discovered to be using drugs, or accepts a ride with someone who is under the influence of alcohol or other drugs? Develop strategies for each situation. Remember: A teenager who refuses or cannot follow the rules of the home, especially about alcohol or other drugs, cannot be relied upon to obey traffic laws. The teen needs more time to mature before being allowed to drive a car. Draft an "Alcohol and Other Drug Contract" (available from TNTT, call 503-413-4960 or email TNTT); if the teen is unable to keep that agreement, call your pediatrician to schedule an assessment and develop a treatment plan. Keep in mind that some of the teen's friends may need to be avoided. Help the youth develop alcohol/drug free activities and keep family events alcohol/drug free.(Parents and youth face liability exposure. Develop strategies for your son/daughter to help friends stay safe too.) Once the youth proves to be clean and sober, begin GDL process again.

Rules:

  • When/If I am discovered to be using, then:
  • When/If I receive an MIP, then:
  • When/If I accept a ride with driver under the influence, then:
  • Strategy to return home safely and avoid accepting a ride with someone under the
    influence: 
  • When/If a peer is using, then:
  • When/If a peer receives MIP, then:
  • Strategy for a peer who needs to return home safely: 


Issue 9: Restricting driving limits when the teen is first licensed—Design a strategy for driving under hazardous conditions, such as inclement weather, construction zones and peak traffic hours. A 3-5 mile radius from home during daylight hours only is adequate at the beginning of solo driving. Night-time driving is discouraged for the first two years of licensure or until the youth has had plenty of supervised experience driving at night.

Rules:

  • When weather is hazardous, then:
  • When traffic is heavy, then:
  • When I have driven supervised at night for at least 100 hours after being licensed, then:
  • When I have driven supervised for at least 500 miles after being licensed, then:
  • When I have driven supervised for at least 500 miles of night-time driving, then:


Issue 10: Sleep deprivation/Mood/Running late—Teens need at least 9 solid hours of sleep before driving and they rest best in their own beds.

Rules:

  • When/If I am too tired to drive, then:
    When/If I am running late, then:
  • My strategy for being on time is (Examples: set the clock ahead, pack your book bag the night before):
  • If I am in a bad mood, sad or too happy, then:


Issue 11: Tickets and Moving Violations—Create different consequences for moving violations, such as speeding, running stop lights or stop signs, failing to yield, etc., compared to mechanical failure or parking violations. In moving violation instances: return to a "modified GDL" such as, suspending the privilege to drive with siblings and peer passengers, and add passengers back slowly. Recommendation: one week of supervised driving for every mile over the speed limit for which the teen is cited or a minimum of one to two months of supervised driving, then allow one peer passenger and add additional passengers in one to two month increments. Also, decide how the teen pays the fine—through job income, savings, sweat equity?

Sample Moving Violation Rules:

Driving privilege is: ___ Revoked. ___ Supervised for (how long): ____ wks/mos
Passengers are limited to family-only for: (how long):   ____ wks/mos
Peer Passengers are: ___ Suspended for (how long): ____ wks/mos
Then, increased to: ___ one ___ two for (how long): ____ wks/mos
Teen Agrees to pay $ ____ through: ____ chores ____   job ____ savings ____ sweat equity ____ other

Moving Violation Rule: When
Moving Violation Agreement: Then

Parking Violation/Mechanical Failure Rule: When
Parking Violation/Mechanical Failure Agreement: Then 

Rule for peer moving violation—Develop rules to refuse to ride with that driver in the future. How long will you refuse to ride with that driver? How will you determine when it's safe to accept a ride from the cited peer? Will you inform your parents of your friend's violation or will you try to handle it yourself? Should your parents and your friend's parents discuss the situation and draft an outcome? Suggestion: Have a response to your peer when offered a ride after he/she has been cited. Remember: A driver not taking personal safety seriously will not keep you safe either!

Peer Moving Violation Rule: When 
Peer Moving Violation Agreement: Then 

Issue 12: Street racing—Will the consequences be the same for participating as: driver, passenger, and/or spectator? A teen involved in this dangerous activity does not have sufficient prefrontal cortex development to understand the seriousness of driving. Remember: cars of racers and spectators can be impounded. Parents of youth who street race or take a vehicle without permission are reminded to keep all keys to vehicles with the parents at all times, suspend all driving practice for a minimum of a year to allow for more prefrontal cortex maturity and work with the youth for an extended amount of time before ever considering licensure.

Rule: When 
Agreement: Then

Additional Comments and Agreements: 

Signatures of Teen Driver and Parent(s)/Guardian(s)
Date signed

  • Consider adding additional signatures by significant other adults and older siblings in the teen's life to standardize expectations and consequences throughout the family.
  • Draft and share copies of similar guidelines with other family members and the families of friends so that all drivers connected with one another have uniform expectations and consequences. Be sure to include any relatives, neighbors and family friends with children of similar ages who might ride with your teen.
  • Consider adopting a family rule that everyone who picks up your child/teen in a vehicle comes into the house to be greeted.

Click here for a fillable/printable version of this contract.
(Note: To avoid data loss, save the contract to your computer before you begin completing it.)

This contract was developed by Trauma Nurses Talk Tough in connection with its Graduated Driver's Licensing Workshop. ©TNTT. Permission is granted to use this contract with credit to TNTT.