Many parents feel that their kids are too busy or not mature enough to drive and have them wait until they are 18. While this is a good point, I beg to differ. If we wait until they are 18 and about to leave for college, when will they really have time to practice? We learn from our mistakes, right? If our kids make a "mistake" driving it can be a BIG mistake. For most of us Silicon Valley parents our kids won't be nearby if they wait till after high school, away at college somewhere.
When the stakes are small is when we want our kids to make mistakes, when we are close by to consult and provide loving empathy. Driving to and from school less than a mile or two from home is where we want them to practice. Under 18 requires kids have a permit for 6 months AND they can't drive their friends for a whole year after they get their license. (Yes, that's a tough one but worth the battle!) After 18, no restrictions at all.
A friend of mine let their daughter wait until she was 18 to drive, she was too busy with school to be bothered. She had just finished high school and thought it was going to be easy. She was going to go to a college about 10 miles away and would need to commute to school every day in potentially heavy traffic on freeways as well as surface streets. Yikes!
As an 18 year old, she only needed to pass a written test to get a permit, no Drivers Ed class required. Next, she could take the behind-the-wheel test right away, no restrictions! She took it one month later thinking she was ready. She was a TERRIBLE driver and, luckily, failed. She had a bad attitude toward anyone wanting to give her instruction and even started texting while driving, throwing her phone in the back seat when the person helping her objected. She was not understanding the importance of paying attention while driving. She still thought it was EASY. Frightening!
A few weeks later she went back and re-took her driving exam and passed. Well, the VERY NEXT DAY, she was on the freeway and was in an accident -- a $3000 fender-bender Wow! Did she get a wake up call! She was not only shaken up but had to deal with the natural consequences of her poor decision to not take driving seriously. She was so humbled that she didn't even drive for weeks. Her parents were empathetic and loving while holding her accountable -- VERY IMPORTANT!
She now knows about insurance claims and paying things off over time. She even arranged to work with the body shop to pay off some of the work by helping them update their social media presence and website. She got creative! Yeah!
She's now a fairly good driver. She's getting good grades. Her whole attitude has changed. Her parents are thankful they were nearby and they'd had good parenting skills to back them up.