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Insurance Information Institute- Teen Drivers

It's common knowledge that the odds of a teenage driver having an accident is high.

According to SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) research, teens spend 44 percent more hours driving each week in the summer than during the school year. What's worse is that 16-year-olds have higher crash rates than drivers of any other age.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 15- to 20-year olds. In 2006 3,490 drivers in this age group died in motor vehicle crashes. An additional 272,000 were injured. In the same year, drivers aged 15 to 20 accounted for 12.9 percent of all drivers involved in fatal crashes and 16 percent of all drivers involved in police-reported crashes.

“Teens think they are indestructible and often engage in risk-taking behavior,” said Loretta Worters, vice president of the I.I.I. “They are distracted by things they shouldn’t do in a car like eating, talking on their cell phones, text messaging, talking to friends in the car—and they often don’t wear their seatbelts.”

The Insurance Information Institute has these tips for parents.

  1. Pick a safe car.
    The type of car a young person drives can dramatically affect the price of insurance. Trucks and SUVs should be avoided, since they are more prone to rollovers. For more information, see Teenagers and Safe Cars.

  2. Have your teen take a driver’s education course.
    A teen who has learned to drive though a driver’s education course is viewed more favorably by insurers than a teen who has been taught by his or her parents.

  3. Enroll your teen in safe driver programs.
    Some insurers offer "safe driver” programs. Teen participants in these programs sign contracts stating that they will not, for instance, drink and drive.

  4. Talk to your teen about the dangers of combining driving with alcohol, drugs, lack of sleep and distractions.
    Teach your children about the dangers of drinking and driving, and other distractions. Accidents occur each year because a teen driver was drinking, using a cell phone, text messaging, playing the radio or talking to friends in the backseat. A

  5. Be a good role model.
    New drivers learn by example, so if you drive recklessly, your teenage driver may imitate you. Always wear your seatbelt and never drink and drive.

  6. Graduated drivers license programs.
    New drivers are restricted from certain activities, such as driving with passengers, until they have had their licenses for a set period, such as six months.

Protection for you

You can protect yourself financially while keeping the increased cost of adding a teen to your insurance to a minimum by doing the following:

  1. Insure your son or daughter on your own policy.
    It is generally cheaper to add your teenagers to your insurance policy than for them to purchase their own. If they are going to be driving their own car, insure it with your company so that you can get a multi-policy discount.

  2. Find out how your insurer assigns drivers to cars. Some insurers will assign the driver who is the most expensive to insure (generally the teenager) to the car that is the most expensive to insure. If possible, assign your teen to the least valuable car.

  3. Increase your liability insurance. State minimums for liability insurance will probably not be enough to fully protect you from lawsuits, should your teen get into an accident.
  4. Raise your deductible. Going from a $250 to $500 or $1,000 deductible can save you 10 percent to 20 percent on your premium.

  5. Let your insurer know if your teenager is going away to school.
    You may be eligible for lower premiums once your teen heads to college, providing he or she leaves the car behind.
  6. Encourage your teen to get good grades and to take a driver training course.
    Most companies will give discounts for getting at least a “B” average in school and for taking a recognized driver training course.

  7. Shop around.
    Insurance companies differ dramatically in how they price policies for young drivers.

For more information about insurance, go to the I.I.I. Web site.

For related audio, go to More Accidents Take Place When Teens Are Out of School; Make Sure You and Your Teen are Properly Insured.

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