your teenage drivers safe and your insurance premiums lower
SEATTLE, April 13, 2017 – Statistically speaking, the most dangerous time in your teenagers’ lives is when they start driving. As a parent, it’s ultimately up to you to get them the driving experience they need and to coach them about safe driving practices – including the dangers of distracted driving. It’s also a time to make sure you have adequate auto insurance for the new drivers in your family.
Car crashes are the number one killer of teens, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. In 2014, 2,270 drivers between the ages 16 and 19 died in motor vehicle crashes and an additional 221,000 were injured.
Teenagers are prone to distraction, including when they are behind the wheel. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drivers under the age of 20 have the highest proportion of distracted-related fatal crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 9 percent of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2015 were distracted at the time of the accident.
Distracted driving includes any activity that takes your mind off driving, like talking to friends who are in the car, playing loud music, eating, putting on makeup, or using a cell phone to talk, text or Snapchat photos to friends. It’s important for young drivers to develop the mindset early on that when they are behind the wheel, driving is the top priority.
“Even in the best of circumstances, teenage drivers start out as we all did - without the experience and driving confidence to be truly safe drivers,” said Kenton Brine, NW Insurance Council president. “The last thing they need are distractions in the car while they are still learning the ropes – and that especially includes ready access to texts and snapchats while they’re driving.”
Brine noted that statutes in many states restrict teens from having additional passengers in the car, limit the hours in which they can drive without an adult present and enhance penalties for illegal cell phone use while driving.
“These laws are in effect to emphasize that, especially for the youngest, least-experienced drivers, time behind the wheel must be focused on becoming a better, more focused and safer driver,” he said.
In addition to the safety of your teen, the cost of your Auto Insurance premiums when your teen starts driving can be another concern for parents. Auto insurance rates for teenage drivers are typically much higher than other drivers because as a group teenagers pose a higher risk of accidents. Adding a teenager to your Auto Policy can mean a 50 percent or more increase in your auto insurance premium. However, there are ways to manage the cost of insurance for your family.
The NW Insurance Council and Insurance Information Institute offer the following tips to help keep your teenage driver safe and your auto insurance premiums down:
- Enroll your teen in a Drivers Education Course and a Graduated Drivers License program. Every state has a graduated drivers license law that includes a three-phase program to help teens gain experience behind the wheel and develop a more mature driving attitude.
- Remind your teen never to phone or text while driving. Instruct them to put their phone out of reach or turn it off so they’re not tempted to take a peek if a text or call comes through while they’re driving.
- Advise your teen to wait until they are safely stopped to look for something in the vehicle, change controls like the mirrors or air conditioning, search for music or adjust a GPS navigator. Also, require your teenager to wear a seat belt at all times.
- Consider installing on App on your teens phone that “fights” or helps prevent distracted driving by blocking phone calls and text messages. Do some online research to find an App that fits your needs.
- Ask your teen to sign a parent-teen driving contract or agreement that details the promises, rules and consequences of driving so everyone is on the same page. One example of such a contract is available on the CDC’s website.
- Encourage your teen to speak up when they see a friend driving distracted. Teens are often the best messengers with their peers.
- Pick a safe car for your teen to drive that offers protection in the event of a crash. Avoid small cars, sports cars and SUV's, which are prone to rollovers.
- Discuss the dangers of drug and alcohol use.
- Always be a good role model for your teenager. New drivers learn by example. If you exceed the speed limit, use a smartphone or drive recklessly, your teenage driver is likely to imitate you.
- Shop around for the best insurance rates. Rates for younger drivers can differ dramatically, so ask agents, brokers or insurance companies for price comparisons.
- Adding your teenager to your own auto insurance policy is generally less expensive than a stand-alone policy. Also, you may qualify for a multi-vehicle discount if you previously had only one car in your household.
- Find out if your insurance company offers a "safe driver" program. If your teenager completes the program you may be eligible for a discount. Also, some insurance companies will subsidize the cost of electronic devices, such as video camera and GPS systems, to monitor the way teens drive and will alert parents of unsafe driving by email, text message or phone.
- Some insurance companies offer a Good Student Discount, which is generally available to students who have a 3.0 grade point average or higher.
- Consider increasing your liability insurance limits or purchasing an umbrella liability policy. If your teen is found negligent in an accident and the damages exceed your insurance limits, you will be held financially responsible for those amounts not covered by your insurance. An umbrella policy kicks in when you reach the limit on your underlying liability coverage in a Homeowners, Renters or Auto policy.
- Raising your deductible can save you 10 percent to 20 percent on your premium. That savings could go towards purchasing more liability coverage.
For more information and tools on how you can keep your teenager safe behind the wheel, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website. For more information about teen driving and Auto Insurance, contact NW Insurance Council at 800-664-4942.
NW Insurance Council is a nonprofit, public-education and public policy organization funded by member insurance companies serving Washington, Oregon and Idaho.