Most parents approach this milestone with a mixture of joy and dread — the day their teenager obtains a driver’s license.
Of course, safety is top of mind for parents. Make sure you talk with your teens about the risks below to ensure that they understand these very real safety threats.
Top 8 safety risks for teen drivers
- Driver inexperience: Risk of a crash is highest in the first year a teen has a driver’s license. To help mitigate this risk, parents should provide at least 30 to 50 hours of supervised driving practice over a six-month period before releasing their teen to drive independently. Also, be sure to practice with your teen on a variety of roads (one-way streets, two-lane streets, highways, interstates, etc.), at different times of day, and in various types of weather and traffic conditions. Disclosure 1
- Driving with teen passengers: Crash risk increases when a teen driver has other teens in the car. For this reason, states have enacted Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) systems, which include passenger restrictions for defined time periods. Visit your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles website for details about the GDL program in your state. Even if your state doesn’t have a rule limiting your teen’s passengers, consider limiting the number of passengers your teen is allowed to have for the first year.
- Driving at night: Drivers of any age are more likely to suffer a fatal crash at night vs. daylight hours, but the risk is even higher for teens driving after dark. Parents should make sure their teen is off the road by nighttime in the first six months of independent driving. It’s also important to practice driving at night when your teen is ready.
- Not wearing seat belts: One of the simplest ways to prevent car crash deaths is to buckle up. Be sure to model the same behavior for your teen and ensure that everyone in your vehicle buckles up as well.
- Distracted driving: Every day, about 8 people in the U.S. are killed in crashes that reportedly involve a distracted driver. Disclosure 2 Take steps to reduce your teen’s risk by explaining and modeling the importance of keeping eyes and ears focused on the road while behind the wheel. In addition, don’t multitask while driving, whether it’s adjusting mirrors, tuning the radio, eating food, reading anything on your phone, or talking on your phone (unless you’re using a hands-free device).
- Drowsy driving: Young drivers are more at risk of drowsy driving than those over age 20. Ensure your teen gets enough sleep and is well rested before getting behind the wheel.
- Reckless driving: Research clearly shows that teens lack the experience, judgment, and maturity to assess risky situations. While parents can’t speed up this aspect of their teen’s brain development, you can make sure teens understand the importance of adhering to speed limits, slowing down even more when it’s raining or when driving at night, and maintaining plenty of space between their car and the vehicle ahead.
- Impaired driving: Even one drink will seriously impair your teen’s driving ability. Factors that help curb teen drinking and driving include parental guidance, zero tolerance laws, and state GDL programs.
Tips to keep auto insurance costs down
Insuring a teenage driver can be expensive. That’s because teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are nearly three times more likely than drivers age 20 and older to be in a crash. Disclosure 3 Below are a few tips to help keep your auto insurance costs down when your teen is ready to get behind the wheel.
- Add your teen to your existing auto insurance policy: When you add your teen to your existing policy, your teen may benefit from your insurance score (as the parent). Also, if you have more than one vehicle, some insurance companies allow you to keep costs down further by designating which vehicle your teen will be driving.
- Enroll your teen in a defensive driving course: If your teen goes above and beyond your state’s minimum drivers’ education and training and completes a defensive driving course, many carriers offer an additional premium discount — up to 15% in some states.
- Understand the insurance impact of a newer vs. older vehicle: You may be considering a new vehicle for your teen, since many come equipped with the latest safety technology (such as forward collision warning, lane departure warning, back-up camera, etc.). However, keep in mind that while vehicles featuring the latest technology do a better job of preventing accidents, it costs much more to repair and replace these features. In terms of your auto insurance rates, there are pros and cons to purchasing a new vehicle with all the latest safety features vs. a less expensive car that is safe but a few years older.
- Consider increasing your deductible: Auto insurance deductibles typically range from $250 to $1,000. If your deductible is on the lower end, you can save money on premiums by bumping up the deductible. However, if an accident occurs and you need to file a claim, be prepared to pay that increased deductible amount.
- Ask about a student discount: Many insurance companies offer a rate discount if your teen maintains at least a 3.0 grade point average (GPA) in school (equivalent to a “B”).
- Ask about multiple policy discounts: Do you have your homeowners insurance with a different company than your auto insurance? Many insurers offer a discount if you have both your home and auto insurance with them.
When did you last review your auto insurance coverage?
Especially when adding a new driver to your insurance, it’s important to review your auto policy and ensure you have the right amount of coverage. It’s also a good time to consider purchasing or increasing the limits on a personal liability umbrella policy, given the increased risks of having a teen driver on your auto policy. McGriff has relationships with the nation’s top-rated insurance companies (Nationwide, Travelers, Liberty Mutual, and more), and we can quickly and easily provide auto insurance options for you.
© 2021 McGriff Insurance Services, Inc. All rights reserved. McGriff Insurance Services, Inc. is a subsidiary of Truist Insurance Holdings, Inc. The information, analyses, opinions and/or recommendations contained herein relating to the impact or the potential impact of coronavirus/COVID-19 on insurance coverage or any insurance policy is not a legal opinion, warranty or guarantee, and should not be relied upon as such. This communication is intended for informational use only. Given the on-going and constantly changing situation with respect to the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, this communication does not necessarily reflect the latest information regarding recently-enacted, pending or proposed legislation or guidance that could override, alter or otherwise affect existing insurance coverage.
This communication is intended for informational use only. As insurance agents or brokers, we do not have the authority to render legal advice or to make coverage decisions, and you should submit all claims to your insurance carrier for evaluation. At your discretion, please consult with an attorney at your own expense for specific advice in this regard.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Eight Danger Zones,” accessed February 15, 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/parentsarethekey/danger/index.html
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Traffic Safety Facts Research Note: Distracted Driving 2018,” accessed February 15, 2021, https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812926
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Teen Drivers,” accessed February 15, 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/transportationsafety/teen_drivers/index.html
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