18 answers

Kids Driving Long Distance

For mothers with kids of driving age: at what age did you let your kids start driving long distances? How on earth did you feel comfortable with it? Tonight, my daughter asked to drive to Fresno tomorrow (about 5 hours from here) with 3 girlfriends, where they would see a Taylor Swift concert and then spend the night in a hotel. I'm not comfortable with them driving such long distances when their driving experience has only been around a small town. My daughter also has an idea of driving to Disneyland for a senior trip, which would take at least 9 hours.

Anyway, we said no about tomorrow, but eventually they will have to drive long distances on their own. So, how does one go about making this transition? Thanks for your advice, as usual.

What can I do next?

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I did not let my kids drive long distances and spend the night unattended while in high school. They are minors and I am the legal guardian. I did drive them to such events and not attend the event, waited in the car and drove them home. They had a good time at the event and I knew who they were with and they were safe. We made the transition as they started college and were an 'adult' of 18 years of age.

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I don't have kids that age yet, but I can tell you, I remember what I was like as a teen and I don't think I'd let my kids take a long over-night trip like that until they're off to college.

While long distances are a scary consideration, it's the maturity factor and reasons for the trips (circumstances) that would be more concerning to me.

The trips your daughter and her friends are interested in are frivolous, and seem like they will be ripe for more potentially bad things to go down than good.

The whole idea of 3 teen girls staying overnight for a concert would have me wondering who how do these girls interact with each other without parental supervision? Are they giddy and boy crazy? Do they drive recklessly for kicks? If the car is yours - will it return in good condition? If something happens, will there be a liability to me insurance or legally speaking? Will there be access alcohol or drugs (yes, even at a Taylor Swift concert!) Will they be meeting up with boys/men? And if so, are these people that I know are trustworthy? (No boy is trustworthy" when there is a hotel involved). Do they know what to do if they have a car break-down or stranger trouble on the road or at a strange hotel? Do they know how to conduct themselves so they won't look like naive targets to predators?

If she were going on a 5 hour trip with her future room-mate to move into her dorm, that's one thing. The trip has a purpose. There will be a concrete plan that involves preparing for school...moving into a new home... getting aquainted with school and so on.

Their mindset, while probably giddy at the prospect of "freedom" would be "purposeful" and far better than what one would expect with a pack of freedom-starved girls looking for an excuse to have the car, stay overnight in the big city, and to do who knows what into the wee hours of the night in a strange, big city? Afterall, other than the concert, what else could they do for fun that's legal age-wise? And there is no guarantee they'd even stay at the concert. I know my friends and I probably wouldn't if we had a car, and permission to stay overnight somewhere far from home. We'd be exploring and looking for "action" where ever we could get away with it! Testing limits would be our goal in that cirucmstance.

There's also the added "instigator" factor. Your daughter is not going on this trip alone. She will be with 3 of her girlfriends, aka "partners-in-crime," all who are probably looking to benefit from your generous donation of a car and possibly the weekend accommodations. While she may be responsible 98 percent of the time, without your influence, the 3 amigas are definitely going to be more of a "bad influence" when it comes to decision making. Once again, this goes back to the "what's the value of this sort of excursion?"

So, to answer your question, how to cope in the future...for me it is as simple as this: As long as she (child) is in the house, she's still under your watch. Right now, she is still more of a child than an adult and now is the time she needs to learn now that trips and get aways are serious business, even for adults. You set the example by teaching her or leading her to evaluate her reasons for the trips, and what she hopes to gain from them. If necessary, explain your concerns in a clear and reasonable way.

Remember, if there is no valid reason or benefit to a long-distance trip, then why go? This stance has nothing to do with curtailing freedom, over-sheltering them, or not giving them enough responsibility. It has to do with teaching them how to be responsible when they're away from you. Teaching them to evaluate whether or not something that may seem fun is really all that fun, safe or even worth it is empowering and a valuable life-skill.

Talk honestly about why you've made the choice you did to keep her home this weekend, and why with future trips like this, even the trip to Disney probably won't happen on your watch. Afterall, until she's fully on her own and out of the house, and it's her name on the car title etc. you as the parent and person paying the insurance who is ultimately responsible for anyone hurt or injured or goes missing while on a trip with your car.

There is plenty of time for "big adventures" when they're older, wiser, and more mature. But while in high school, and for just frivolous fun, I personally would say "no"...whether she's driving or not.

The coping for you, when the time comes, will be knowing you taught her to make wise decisions and to realize with trips, fun and cars comes serious responsibilities. If she needs convincing remind her of the very sad story of Natalie Holloway...a teen girl who went missing on her senior trip in the Caribbean. She nor her friends never imagined a trip that was supposed to be fun and free would end in tragedy and an unsolved mystery.

We live in serious times and the girls need to understand that and learn how to navigate so they will be safe on their own.

3 moms found this helpful

We are going through the same situation. Has your daughter driven with you for several hours at a time? If not, I guess I would start by taking some "road trips" with her...allowing her to drive. Then, gradually let her go somewhere on her own that is about an hour away.

We are really going to intensify the driving this summer!!

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I would say those are great ideas! Let's rent a van, and I will be the cheauffer! My son came up with the idea of driving to Michigan to see friends (a 12 hour trip) at 17. I said , "sorry honey, I love you too much to let you take that kind of a trip by yourself. You will have to wait to do that kind of driving till after you are out of high school." We put him on a plane and had his friend's parents pick him up instead. My limit for my kids is about an hour and a half away and no overnight road trips without an adult. If anything bad happened, you would never forgive yourself...

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During my senior year and just after in high school I was allowed to drive 8 hours to our summer home. I waas also the driver to an amusement park about an hour and a half away.
At 17 my son drove our third car 5 hours between us to our new home here in NC and as a senior has driven through DC, NYC, Baltimore, and Phillly.
Is she trutworthy? Does she tend to get distracted easily? Does she eat, drink, play with her iPod, etc while driving? Are her friends good kids? These are questions you have to ask yourself?
At 18 they are allowed by law to live on their own and join the military. My husband was making 16 hour drives by himself to get home for leave from his first duty station. I know it's hard but we have to let go sometime.
If you let her drive to Disney have her take turns every hour ot two with a driving buddy. Have her call at designated time intervals so you know how she is doing and if she doesn't tell her you will call the cops.

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this is like a teething walking or speech question there is no set age. Depends on the kid. When mine first started highway driving it was when he was going to school out of town. 45 minutes there and back. and same when he moved out of town about an hour trip. depends on thier skill level. and all highway driving at first was with an adult in the vehicle even though he had his liscense.

he has not drove in big towns but he lived in a town the traffic was compareable to a big town. if we drive in a big town we make him pay attention to what we are doing as far as how we change lanes which lane to stay in and what to do if he gets lost. We have never denied letting him drive in a big town he just hasn't wanted to yet. listen to your gut and go from there.
they all do it at a diffrent age. depends on the kid.

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My daughter is 16 and just started driving, but I would not allow her at a concert without adult supervision. As for staying in a hotel; most hotels will not allow you to rent a room without being at least 25 years of age. It comes down to insurance and liabilities. I suppose this can be true for the auto insurance, too. It is your responsibility, if anything happened to your daughter and her friends. I know my children don't always like my answers, but until they are adults I am standing firm. I can remember terrible things that happened to many of my friends when we were in High School. I would never be able to live with myself if someone was injured or worse. Good luck on your decision.

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I do not have a teen yet but I do remember being one. My parents did not allow me to drive very far until it became a neccesity my senior year of high school. My father began having seizures and lost his driver's liscense so I began to drive him from Petaluma to the Larkspur ferry terminal and pcik him up in the evenings, I also ended up driving my younger sister to 6th grade camp in Cazadero. The summer after my senior year I drove my sister's and I from Petaluma to Idaho. However this was decided because my father could not drive and I was not allowed to drive out of town with more than one friend in the car. And the longer trips to Cazadero and Idaho were with family only.

On another note driving in an unfamiliar area can be a bit underving for a driver of any age or experience. My husband is in the military so we are often driving in an unfamiliar palce and it is not uncommon for us to be temporarily confused abotu our location. We've both truned the wrong way on a one-way street at some point while trying to find a place or gotten off a freeway in a not too nice neighborhood. I've also had some close calls in bad weather while trying to read direction signs trying to figure out where I am. I think the Disneyland trip is a little too much for teenage girls to handle on thier own no matter how confidant they are. Perhaps if it's feasable you could take a trip down there too and drive with them and then be close-by but not WITH them.

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You have gotten some great advice about driving, so I won't address that. I do know that the Taylor Swift concert is sold out in Fresno, so unless your daughter and her friends already have their tickets, they won't be able to get in. If they do have tickets already, I wonder if they had thought about how they had planned to make the trip. Teens and their minor details!! :)

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