Do you have a teenager that’s about to hit the road for the first time? It’s a scary prospect as a parent, especially considering (according to 2016 national statistics) that motor vehicle accidents were the leading cause of death for people aged 16 to 19. Those same statistics show car accidents killed 2,433 teenagers and sent 292,742 of them to the ER in one year. Because of this teen drivers also incur higher insurance premiums, but there are strategies to ease your mind and your wallet the next time your teen asks to borrow the keys.
First of all, when choosing a policy for your teen you’ll want to make sure you write your policy in 12-month terms, as opposed to 3 or 6. This way even if something does happen your premiums won’t rise until the policy is renewed. Another tactic is to rate your teen on your cheapest car. Obviously kids in sports cars are expensive to insure, but you could be surprised by the amount you save on premiums when you switch the rate from your newest car to one that’s a bit older and cheaper.
Beyond the policy itself there are other ways to save money when insuring your teen, and these tactics have the added advantage of encouraging your teen to drive more safely. If your child is a good student that’s a great place to start! Most policies offer a discount of 10-20% for high school drivers with a 3.0 grade point average.
There are also programs in place like Teen Safe Driver from American Family Insurance. This is an app that’s installed on your teenager’s smartphone that monitors their driving, rates each trip, and gives them feedback on what they could improve on. The app looks at things like speed, location, texting while driving, hard breaks, and extreme accelerations. It also sends its report to you so you can identify bad habits and start conversations about dangerous driving. Once your teen completes a year in the program or drives 3,000 miles with the app (whichever comes first) you’ll receive a 10% discount on their policy.
Apart from these programs there are some general safe driving tips that apply to everyone and may seem simple, but having these conversations with your new driver could save you money and heartache. Seatbelts save 15,000 lives every year according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and should be worn at all times while in a vehicle. They keep you inside the car (and therefore 4 times more likely to survive a crash), reduce injuries by spreading out the force of impact, and protect the brain and spinal cord.
It’s also incredibly important to talk to your teen about the dangers of distracted driving. They’ll tell you they already know, but it still causes nearly 60% of teen crashes. One of the biggest reasons to have a conversation about it is that it’s the kind of behavior that compounds when it’s not corrected. Like drunk driving, if they get away with it a few times they can convince themselves that they’re good at it and won’t correct the behavior on their own until a crash or police intervention forces them to.
Obviously drinking or texting while driving is incredibly dangerous but distraction and impairment can come in many forms, really it’s anything that takes their mind or eyes off the road. Talking on hands free devices has been proven to be just as dangerous as talking on a cell phone normally. Driving while tired slows reaction times and is responsible for an enormous number of fatal crashes every year. Even things that seem innocuous such as turning the radio station, changing the temperature, or talking to a friend in the car can greatly increase their chances of getting into an accident.
Another great piece of advice to tell your teens is to pause for a moment if they’re the first in line when a light turns green. The amount of people running red lights has been on the rise over the last few years so taking a second at a green light is an increasingly useful habit to avoid a nasty crash and all the grief that comes with it.
Backing into or pulling through spots in a parking lot is one more way to avoid accidents. The majority of backover accidents happen in parking lots and driveways and taking the time to back into a spot will give them a better vantage point to see pedestrians and other traffic when their getting ready to leave the space.