What Parents Need to Know About Insuring Teen Drivers
High Accident Rate
The subject of teen driving causes great concern among parents, and for good reason: well over 50% of new teen drivers have an accident in the first two years of operating a vehicle! Of course your primary concern is the safety of your teen and those around him or her, but new teen drivers impact families in more ways than you would expect. Parents should be aware that their chances of getting sued increase dramatically when they have teenage drivers.
Preparing for Your Teen Driver
It is critical to begin your preparations by assessing your insurance needs when your teen is getting ready to drive. While Massachusetts law requires that you add your child to your insurance when they get their license, it is important to begin the conversation with your insurance agent as soon as your teen brings home their learner's permit.
Five Key Insurance Considerations
- Cost Factors: Experience, Driving Record, Residence, Type and Age of Vehicle. How much will it really cost to add your teen to your insurance policy? Insurance rates depend on many different factors: experience and driving record, type and age of vehicle, and where you live. The first three years as a licensed driver are the most expensive in Massachusetts; 3-6 years is the next most expensive; and after that the same class applies for most people under 65. Generally, it costs a significant amount to add a teen driver to your insurance policy and it costs even more to add a teen with their own car to your policy. With accidents extremely common for new drivers, it may be worth paying a higher premium for a lower deductible.
- Choosing a Car for Your Teen. If you are thinking of giving your teen your old car, remember that SUVs have a higher accident rate than 4-door sedans. While that SUV is a cool car for kids, its higher center of gravity makes it more prone to roll-over accidents and its size can give teens a false sense of confidence. Smaller two-door cars, while better on gas, also have a higher rate of serious injuries with accidents. Newer cars with ABS brakes and air bags have fewer serious injury accidents. Most cars built prior to 1994 did not have dual air bags. Most cars built after 2000 have multiple side and front air bags. These are all issues to consider when thinking about what type of car your teen will be driving. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has current safety ratings at http://www.iihs.org/ratings/.
- Know the Massachusetts Law. Do you and your teen know the rules governing junior operators? If your child is under 18, they have a junior operator's license. For the first six months, they cannot drive friends unless they have a licensed driver over the age of 21 in the front seat with them. Until they are 18, they are not permitted to drive between 12:30am and 5:00am unless accompanied by a parent. Penalties for violating these restrictions are a 60-day license suspension and a $100 fine the first time.You and your teen will want to be familiar with the major penalties in Massachusetts for any kind of moving violation. In addition to the fine for their first speeding violation, your junior operator (1) immediately loses their license for ninety days, (2) must pass both the learner's permit and road tests again, (3) incurs a $500 license reinstatement fee, (4) is required to take a $75 Driver Attitudinal Retraining Course, and (5) must take a $75 State Courts Against Road Rage course.It's not worth it! Make sure your child understands these serious ramifications of driving too fast just one time! Massachusetts is also currently considering restrictions on cell phone and texting use, particularly for drivers under 18. Go to the Massachusetts RMV's junior operator webpage for more details at http://www.mass.gov/rmv/jol/.
- Advanced Driving Courses Are a Really Good Idea. Just because your teen has passed driver's education and the road test doesn't mean he or she is an expert driver. Many parents still set limitations or continue riding along with their teen until they are confident that their child is ready for the road. An advanced driving course is recommended, and Baldwin/Welsh & Parker Insurance Agencies provide discounts on this course to our clients because it is shown to make a difference. Additionally, some of the insurance carriers we represent offer discounts on auto insurance for young drivers who have completed advanced driver training. Go to http://www.DriveInControl.com for information on an advanced driver class which is discounted for our clients.
- Focus on Safety at All Times - May is a Perfect Time to Have that Conversation on Driving Safety. May is an important time for you and your teen to be focused on driving safety. With prom, graduation, and summer trips just ahead, there is an increased risk of being in a compromised driving situation. Join Baldwin & Welsh & Parker Insurance Agencies in supporting teen driving safety awareness during May - National Youth Traffic Safety Month. Visit the National Organization for Youth Safety (NOYS) website for more information on how to help teens play it safe: http://noys.org.
May 13, 2011
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Efforts to Reduce Teen Accidents
Even with the new Massachusetts zero-tolerance penalties enacted for junior operators, vehicle crashes are still the number one cause of death among teenagers. Statistics reveal that one third of Massachusetts drivers will be involved in a vehicle crash during the first year they are licensed. Baldwin/Welsh & Parker Insurance Agency urges all community members to review the CDC's Eight Danger Zones of teen driving during May—National Youth Traffic Safety Month.
Eight Danger Zones
Eight teens a day are killed in car crashes. Make sure your young driver is aware of the leading causes of teen crashes, and put rules in place to help your teen stay safe.
- No. 1: Driver inexperience. Most crashes happen during the first year a teen has a license. Provide at least 30 to 50 hours of supervised driving practice over at least six months. Make sure to practice on a variety of roads, at different times of day, and in varied weather and traffic conditions. This will help your teen gain the skills he or she needs to be safe.
- No. 2: Driving with teen passengers. Crash risk goes up when teens drive with other teens in the car. Follow your state’s teen driving law for passenger restrictions. If your state doesn’t have such a rule, limit the number of teen passengers your child can have to zero or one. Keep this rule for at least the first six months.
- No. 3: Nighttime driving. For all ages, fatal crashes are more likely to occur at night; but the risk is highest for teens. Make sure your teen is off the road by 9 or 10 p.m. for at least the first six months of licensed driving.
- No. 4: Not using seat belts. The simplest way to prevent car crash deaths is to buckle up. Require your teen to wear a seat belt on every trip. This simple step can reduce by half your teen’s risk of dying or being badly injured in a crash.
- No. 5: Distracted driving. Distractions increase your teen’s risk of being in a crash. Don’t allow activities that may take your teen’s attention away from driving, such as talking on a cell phone, texting, eating, or playing with the radio.
- No. 6: Drowsy driving. Young drivers are at the highest risk for drowsy driving, which causes thousands of crashes every year. Teens are most tired and at risk when driving in the early morning or late at night. Be sure your teen is fully rested before he or she gets behind the wheel.
- No. 7: Reckless driving. Research shows that teens lack the experience, judgment, and maturity to assess risky situations. Help your teen avoid the following unsafe behaviors.
- Speeding: Make sure your teen knows to follow the speed limit and adjust speed to road conditions.
- Tailgating: Remind your teen to maintain enough space behind the vehicle ahead to avoid a crash in case of a sudden stop.
- Insufficient scanning: Stress the importance of always knowing the location of other vehicles on the road.
- No. 8: Impaired driving. Even one drink will impair your teen’s driving ability and increase the risk of a crash. Be a good role model: don’t drink and drive, and reinforce this message with your teen.