If your kids are anything like my teenager, virtually every American teenager’s dream is getting behind the wheel. A driver’s license is a ticket to freedom! At last, teens can drive themselves to school, work, and recreational activities. Parents are thrilled and terrified at the same time that they don’t have to chauffeur the kids around anymore. It sounds too good to be true, and it frequently is.
Beginning drivers progress through three stages. In the first stage, which may last six months, the new driver can usually drive only with a licensed driver in the car. In the second or intermediate stage, the new driver can drive alone, but typically there are limits on late-night driving and the number of teenage passengers allowed. If the driver remains accident-free for twelve months and logs a minimum number of hours, he or she reaches the third stage, which permits unlimited driving with no restrictions.
Let’s look at some...less-than-intelligent things your teenagers may do (because we have seen them or done them ourselves!):
· Drive through a red light because they are freaking out about the red light they just drove through.
· Drive through a stop sign because they are paying attention to the upcoming red light.
· Try to drift into a curve with a 1989 Ford Thunderbird. It doesn’t work. You’ll hit the guardrail.
· Drive into oncoming traffic because they are looking at the girls/boys at soccer practice.
· Backing into anything in or around your driveway. Literally anything. Stay out of your driveway. It's no longer safe.
In 2013, just under a million teenage drivers were involved in police-reported crashes, according to AAA. These accidents resulted in 373,645 injuries and 2,927 deaths, AAA said. An average of six teenagers a day die from motor vehicle injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What steps can teens take to increase their driving safety and ease the pain of higher insurance premiums? Here are 7 actions we recommend.
1. Keep your grades up. Many insurance companies give a discount to student drivers who have a B average or better.
2. Take a defensive driver’s course. This is another way to get a discount on your insurance.
3. Wear your seat belt. Research shows that teens are less likely than adults to wear seat belts, but wearing a seat belt could save your life.
4. Limit your nighttime driving. Especially avoid driving between midnight and the early morning hours. Stay accident-free. Watch out…If you have just one accident, your insurance rates may go through the roof.
5. Limit the number of friends you transport. Of course, you will want to take your friends places, but try to limit the load to one or two at a time.
6. Don’t mix alcohol or drugs with driving. Many states’ graduated licensing systems now have a zero-tolerance policy on driving under the influence. If you think insurance rates are high now, try getting insurance for a teenager that has a DUI. Drive sober!
7. Check the safety record of a car before you buy one. Some cars are safer than others, which can mean your insurance premiums will be lower. Pick a safe car. You and your teenager should choose a car that is easy to drive and would offer protection in the event of a crash. For example, avoid small cars and those with high performance that might encourage speed and recklessness, or trucks and sport utility vehicles (SUVs), which are more prone to rollovers.
Ultimately, safe driving is a matter of personal responsibility. Your actions affect not only you but your passengers and fellow drivers as well. Follow one simple rule: be considerate.
If you have questions on how your teen driver affects your insurance, contact us at 419-732-3171. We're here to help. Please share any of the funny stories that you have from being a teen driver or that you have from your teen driver.
By Brooke Stephenson