Most teens are eager to get their learner’s permits and licenses when they reach the legal age to lawfully operate a motor vehicle on public roads. When your teen gets their license, you will be faced with a decision: do you give a vehicle to your son or daughter, let them drive your own vehicle, or just wish them good luck? Giving your child a vehicle has several benefits over the latter two options, but it also has several risks.
The Benefits of Gifting a Vehicle to Your Teen
By providing your teen with a vehicle, you are providing them with unlimited access to transportation to and from school and their employment. They no longer need you to be available or to have one of your vehicles available in order to complete their daily obligations.
Teens with their own vehicles often have improved social lives over those who don't, as they can more readily attend after school events, sporting events, or other social activities. Teens with trucks are also popular because they are able to help their friends move larger items or participate in school related events, which require larger vehicles, such as helping to tow the homecoming float.
Gifting a vehicle to your teen will also ease your burden in terms of maintaining the household. Not only are you free of transporting your child to and from their daily activities, but you can also ask them to run errands. Trips to the grocery store, the hardware store, and even some local business trips will largely become a thing of the past. Having them run some errands will help you tremendously in today's over-scheduled lives that we all have.
Another reason to furnish your teen with a vehicle is to control the quality of their first vehicle. Teens have limited financial resources. They also don't have a keen eye for long-term practicality. Teens don't have any experience in purchasing a car either. By providing your teen with a vehicle, you can ensure that your teen drives a safe vehicle that is equipped with airbags and working brakes and that will not leave them stranded on the roadside.
If you make the stipulation that the upkeep of the car is solely on the teen, you are teaching him to be responsible. If you decide to make gas money his responsibility and stick to it, you are teaching him how to budget his money, which will be an asset for his future.
The Drawbacks of Gifting a Vehicle to Your Teen
While providing your teenager with a vehicle has several benefits, it can also create problems. If you provide your son or daughter with a nice vehicle and they have done little to earn it, they may develop a sense of entitlement. This sense of entitlement can lead them to expect great rewards for performing little or no actual work.
One way to skirt the issue is to make your teen pay for all or part of a vehicle while you pay for insurance, gas, and maintenance or vice versa. This will make it clear that the vehicle is a shared obligation. While you are willing to assist them, you expect them to fulfill their responsibilities.
An added vehicle can also be an added headache. Many parents who give cars to their teens find that the teen lacks the financial or technological capabilities to care for the vehicle and perform maintenance. As a result, those maintenance responsibilities often fall back onto the parents.
Inexperienced drivers may have poor driving habits and lack of self control that results in increased wear on clutches, brake pads, rotors, and tires, just to name a few items. To avoid this problem, make the teenager exclusively responsible for maintaining the vehicle. At the very least, decline to pay for or handle expenses that were clearly caused by abuse or for insurance increases that stem from a traffic violation.
Parents, and especially grandparents, often overlook the legal ramifications of gifting a vehicle to a child. With very few exceptions, the parents are responsible for the actions of their minor children. If your child causes a collision, you will be responsible for paying the damages regardless of whether you personally did anything wrong.
If the teen is caught mixing drinking with driving, his whole future could be at stake. Laws differ in every state but a Houston DWI lawyer says that in the state of Texas, ''you only have 15 days to challenge the suspension of your license.'' In many states, this time period is even less.
If your teen is legally an adult and if you provided your vehicle to them knowing that they were a reckless or careless driver, you may also be responsible for any damages that they caused. If your own insurance company is unwilling to settle with the claimant, you may be personally liable for the damages.
The benefits of giving a responsible teen a vehicle outweigh the potential risks. Select a vehicle with low insurance rates, good gas mileage, a strong record of reliability and safety. If you can afford to do so, buying your teen a newer vehicle with an active collision avoidance system may save his or her life or prevent an expensive lawsuit. However, if your teen behaves irresponsibly behind the wheel, you may want to think twice about even lending your own vehicle to them.
Debbie Nguyen is a graphic designer and blogger. Her family policy has the teen responsible for half of all purchasing and maintenance when it comes to cars.
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/statefarm/9731139389/