The day your teenager gets their driver’s license will be one of the happiest of their life. For you, it’s a different story. Sure – you’re relieved that you no longer have to count chauffeuring among your parental duties. But it’s also a bittersweet moment to watch your child grow up so much in an instant.
You’re also forgiven if you’re just a little bit apprehensive about the decisions your teen will make while they’re controlling over a ton of fast-moving steel. After all, you can remember all the silly things they used to do like they happened just yesterday. (Indeed, some of those things may actually have happened yesterday. Teens aren’t widely regarded as having great judgment.)
Your concerns about your teen driver are well founded. That’s because…
Teen Drivers Are at Higher Risk of Accidents
Inexperience and impulsivity aren’t great qualities for a driver to have. Unfortunately, these traits are characteristic of most teens. They’re why the crash rate for teens is about four times as high compared to other age groups. They’re why young drivers account for 8.5 percent of fatal crashes despite constituting only 5.1 percent of licensed drivers – and why accidents are the leading cause of death among people aged 15 to 19. They’re also why young drivers are 17 times more likely to die in a crash when their blood alcohol concentration is .08 percent or higher.
Fortunately, you have a secret weapon that will help you enjoy greater confidence in the decisions your teen makes behind the wheel. It’s called parenting!
Tips to Keep Your Teen Driver Safe
- Take an active role in teaching your teen how to drive. You’ve already taught your child countless useful things. Make driving another! With your expert supervision, they’re bound to pick up good habits like using the turn signal, looking in rearview mirrors before changing lanes, and obeying the speed limit.
- Teach your teen how to drive in different conditions. Night and day. Clear and inclement weather. Highway and city. These are all important conditions to master driving under. Make sure your teen accustoms themself to all of them!
- Impose a driving curfew. They may not be especially fond of the rule, but forbidding your teen from driving after dark will help them avoid trouble while they are still getting their bearings on the road. You may suspend the nighttime moratorium on driving once they have demonstrated their maturity, or after they have had six months of practice.
- Don’t let your teen drive with passengers. Most vehicle crashes caused by teenagers resulted from distracted driving. Fifteen percent of those crashes happened while the drivers were interacting with their passengers. (Even a quick kiss can cause a collision, as recently demonstrated by a young driver) Many parents find that six months is a good period to prohibit driving with passengers – enough time for a novice driver to get accustomed to the road by themself.
- Mandate seat belt use. Your teen may be under the impression that they only have to wear a seat belt when you can see them. If that is the case, fix their thinking at once. A driver has a 45 percent lower chance of fatality if they were wearing a seat belt during a collision. A seat belt also halves their risk of serious injury. Read this quick story about a 17-year-old’s dangerous encounter with a utility pole, and imagine his parents’ relief when they learned that a seat belt saved their son’s life!
- Prohibit cell phone use while driving. Twenty one percent of teen drivers involved in fatal accidents were distracted by their cell phones. Consider the case of 16-year-old Kailee Mills, who removed her seat belt so she could take a better selfie while driving, or of 17-year-old Carlee Rose Bollig who killed a father and his daughter while she was driving and texting. These tragedies could have been avoided had the young drivers only parked before using their phones!
- Reward good driving habits. Make a contract with your teen driver: if they don’t receive a ticket or get involved in an accident before their 20th birthday, you’ll give them something that they’ll really like. Maybe it’s money, or a trip, or even the car you’re allowing them to drive. No one knows what they like better than you!
- Keep your teen driver fully insured. Sometimes, even the most responsible driver in the world can’t avoid getting into a collision. Your teen driver’s auto insurance may cost more than your own, but it’s well worth your peace of mind.
The Hoffman Agency team is standing by to serve all Iowan drivers’ auto insurance needs, regardless of their age or experience behind the wheel. If you would like to welcome a new driver to the road with a comprehensive policy to back them up, then we welcome you to contact our insurance agency today!