Are you a teenage driver or do you have one in your house? There are over 200,000,000 licensed drivers in the United States today and about 6% of them are teens. As a group, they are more likely than other age groups to be involved in a fatal accident and more likely to get a traffic citation, except possibly for those 75 years and older. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for those in the age group from 16 to 21 years old. Some of this may be due to inexperience, but there are certainly other factors involved in the high proportion of teen deaths in motor vehicle accidents. Authorities like the National Highway Safety Transportation Authority (NHTSA) suggest that psychological and behavioral factors such as impulsivity, peer pressure and thrill seeking behavior may lead to the association with speeding, reckless driving and alcohol and drug use while driving that is a frequent cause of accidents. NHTSA studies have also shown new drivers are easily distracted and that teens are more likely to engage in risky behavior when in a group. It is not just fatalities that are of concern; national studies show that one speeding ticket results in an increase in insurance costs of $900 over the course of a three year period. So, teens and their parents need to be concerned not only about their physical health but their financial health as well.
There is no shortage of advice for teens about driving but it can boil down to some very quick observations:
- Don’t drink or take drugs and drive; don’t get into a car with people who are drinking or taking drugs.
- Don’t drive distracted; that is no texting, talking on cell phones while driving or other in car activities.
- Buckle up. If you have heard some nonsense about ending up in a creek upside down and drowning because you couldn’t get out of the safety belt, forget about it. It almost never happens.
- Be careful when there’s a group in the car. Whether old or young, none of us is as distracted alone as we are in a group having fun – and
- Watch your speed.
There are certainly other tips that may be helpful, like exercising care when driving in the dark or extreme weather but by and large if you observe the big five above, you will have a better chance of becoming a senior driver someday.
If you are the parent of a teen and feel that you need some help monitoring your teen’s driving habits, you may want to enlist the help of some technological aids. There are a variety of smart phone apps designed to help reduce distractions while your teen is driving and keep their passengers safer on the road. While technology is advancing all the time, at Homer Smith Insurance we believe there really is no substitute for the teen learning good, safe driving habits along with close parental supervision.
In addition to the safety benefits of responsible driving, teens will get the best auto insurance rates if they: 1) Maintain good grades, typically at least a B average; 2) Keep a clean driving record, free of accidents and violations and; 3) Take an approved driver’s education course.