We wrote the original version of our contract 20 years ago and have revised it many times. There are a lot of excellent free contracts out there. Ours just happens to be the best. Bear with us as we go through some guidelines for using the contract well.
- Decide now, and tell your teenager, that he or she will not be able to drive by themselves without a SIGNED, WRITTEN contract. Period.
- We recommend that you NOT use the contract to try to achieve other things you want from your teen. We recommend NOT to put a provision in the contract requiring a certain grade average, for example. Safety is too important. The contract should be about SAFETY and not trying to motivate a teenager to do chores or study harder.
- Make sure the contract is consistent with state laws. It can be more strict than state laws–and it should be–but obviously can’t be more lenient than the law.
- Our contract has a unique feature which we’ve not seen in any other similar document. The consequence of breaking a rule, according to our contract, is the withdrawal of INDEPENDENT driving privileges and NOT taking the teenager off the road for X number of weeks or months. This requires explanation. First, there certainly could be things that could happen that would be so serious. that a parent should take the teenager off the road. Driving while drunk would certainly have moved me to suspend my teenager’s driving privileges. But, for most violations, I think it is better not to pull their privileges to drive but, instead, to REVERT BACK TO LEARNER’S PERMIT MODE for days, weeks, or even months following a violation of the contract. Why? People become better drivers by driving. Taking a teenager off the road for X amount of time takes away the valuable experience. Plus, I ask you, if you go back to learner’s permit mode for, say 3 weeks, isn’t that punishment?? And, it gives you a chance to get back in the car and provide more instruction and supervision.
Here is the contract in different file formats and in a long form and a short form. Use both the long and short forms. Keep the short form handy…it’s easier to read and refer to.