Having a teen who is learning to drive is very much a double-edged sword. On one hand how great will it be when your child (and face it they are still a child in many respects) can drive themselves to all of their activities. On the other hand, how will you ever relax until they have make it back home safe and sound. You see the predicament, right?

Teen drivers are at higher risk for accidents due to lack of experience, age, and maturity level. In today’s technology-rich environment, our teens are also at risk due to distracted driving while chatting on their cell phone, texting, or talking to friends in the backseat. So how can families help prepare and protect their teen driver for the dangers of the road and distracted driving? Here are some tips that may help.

Practice Safety Rules

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, car crashes are the number one killer of U.S. teens. In fact, the fatal crash rate per mile driven for 16-to-17-year-olds is nearly three times the rate for drivers ages 20 and older. For this reason, families should institute common sense safety rules that can help keep your child protected on the road. First and foremost, require that your child and every person in the car buckle up – every time. Discuss speeding and how the likelihood of an accident can increase with each mile over the posted sign. Parents may want to check out some new apps like Life360 that can report to you the maximum speed your teen reached while driving!

Follow the Guidelines of Graduated Licensing Programs

In addition to buckling up, set firm ground rules about how many passengers your teen can have in the car with them. Many states have a Graduated licensing program (GDL) that sets restrictions of how many passengers a teen can have in the car. The GDL in Massachusetts also sets requirements on minimum hours of driving experience (some with parents along), restrictions on driving hours, and a required amount of driving education classes.

Discuss Distracted Driving Issues

Teens believe they are invincible and think that distracted driving accidents won’t happen to them. Talk about how looking at a text, phone, or even the radio can take their eyes off the road for 5 seconds or more. Going highway speed, that is the equivalent of a football field before they look up again. Discuss methods and strategies such as putting the phone away, not eating or drinking in the car, and asking friends to be respectful to your driving concentration level. Ask your child to take the pledge put forth by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to drive phone-free.

A Word on Drinking and Driving

It goes without saying that parents should warn their children about the dangers of driving while impaired or getting into a car with someone who has been drinking. Not only can an impaired driver put themselves and others on the road at risk, but they will potentially lose their license, be jailed, face fines, and their insurance policy premium will spike dramatically.

Understand the Implications of Insurance

Even before your teen gets their permit, discuss the costs involved in insuring a teenage driver. Encourage positive behaviors that may reduce your teen’s insurance rate depending upon the carrier. Auto insurers offer discounts or reduced premiums to: students who maintain at least a “B” average in school, teens who take a recognized driver training course, and college students who attend school at least 100 miles away from home and don’t bring their car to campus. Some auto insurers also tap into technology to reduce costs. Car monitors that regulate and report speeds, and safe driving practices are something you may want to discuss with your agent.

Is your teen on the cusp of getting his/her permit? Talk to your agent today about what this means for your insurance policy. Call Phil Richard Insurance at 978-774-4338. We are happy to talk to you about your insurance options in regard to your teen driver. Safe driving!