One Hudson Valley Mom's Teen Driving Story

How a teen driving contract may have saved a life

How a teen driving contract may have saved a life

It’s 2:30 in the morning and my phone is ringing, waking me up out of a dead sleep. I pick it up and the voice on the other end is my 18-year-old son.

“Mom, can you please come pick me up….I need you.”

I’m trying not to let the sound of panic mixed with confusion come through the telephone line.

“Where are you?”

“I don’t know” he said, and I immediately envisioned my son lost somewhere on the side of a road praying he wasn’t hit by a car.

Piecing the story together

My son had gone to a party that night in a neighborhood he wasn’t familiar with. As I pieced together what little directions I could get out of him, what should have been a twenty minute ride to Goshen from my Monroe home turned into a three hour nightmare. The streets were dark. He didn’t know where he was and it was a miracle that I found him. But I did and he was safe. When he got into the car I thanked him.

How we forged a contract

Let me explain. When my son started driving, we devised a contract with rules and consequences. The most important rule was that if he couldn’t drive for whatever reason, he would call me and I would come get him no questions asked.

That night he had gone to a party and the friend that was supposed to drive him home had been drinking. Instead of getting into his car, he called me. I kept my end of the contract and picked him up.

Click here for our Teen Driving Contract

Contract should include rules and consequences

Some of the rules of our contract “no drinking and driving” and “he could never get into a car with someone who had been drinking.” I also told him  he had to limit the number of passengers in the car and no cell phones.

He suggested paying for his own gas if I paid for the insurance. We also discussed consequences: if he got caught speeding he would lose the car and his license. We both signed the contract and left it on the refrigerator as a constant reminder of what’s expected.

I see too much of this in my line of work

As an insurance broker, I have seen teens in the worst of situations. And I tell my son what I tell other teens: that the decisions he makes behind the wheel not only affects him but the people that love him.

A car can be replaced, but there’s only one of him.  

Laurie Salkin lives in Monroe and is a mother of two teen drivers.