One of the most important milestones in a teenager’s life is getting licensed to drive. Many parents (and state laws) place driving restrictions on teen driving, because it’s a statistical fact that new drivers get into more accidents, with more serious consequences, than experienced drivers.
As a result, teen drivers are initially rated as high risk by all auto insurance companies. When your teen driver is first licensed, it can cause your auto insurance premiums to skyrocket. There are some insurance discounts that are available to teen drivers who exhibit responsibility and safe driving habits, such as maintaining good grades, taking an approved driver’s education course, and avoiding moving violations. But the most important factor for insurance discounts: was the teen driver safe during the policy period, and not get into any accidents?
The Parent’s Role
Parents can take an aggressive role in managing the habits of teen drivers. Simply sitting down with your teen and discussing your expectations is a great place to start. It’s also no small matter that kids follow their parent’s example. If you’re an aggressive driver, or have bad driving habits, it’s likely your teen will pick up on that driving style and exhibit the same tendencies.
Technology has advanced to the point where moms and dads can monitor, and in some instances control, the skills and driving habits of their teen drivers. Car manufacturers and the insurance industry itself are leading the way in using technology to keep teen drivers safe.
Technology and Safe Teen Drivers
Ford Motor Company introduced the MyKey system with their 2010 line of vehicles. Basically, this system allows a parent to set some driving parameters in a vehicle equipped with MyKey. The top speed of a vehicle can be set for the teen driver (for instance, at 65 MPH). Parents can limit the volume of the stereo in the car to avoid distractions, and so the teen driver can hear what’s happening around them rather than the latest pop tune at full volume. The system can be set so the stereo is fully muted until the teen driver buckles the seat belt.
Insurance companies are also getting into the act. American Family Insurance offers a “Teen Safe Driver Program”. This program provides insurance discounts for teen drivers, and gives parents feedback on driving habits. To participate, a small video camera is placed behind the rear view mirror of the vehicle. The camera is activated by sudden stops or acceleration, with video and audio recorded from passenger compartment, and video in front of the car. According to AFI, university studies have shown that risky behavior by teen drivers is reduced by up to 70% with this program.
Still, technology alone can never replace parental guidance and restrictions on their teen drivers. Yes, insurance discounts may make the premiums easier to swallow, but good driving habits keep your teen and other drivers on the road safe. No parent wants the phone ringing at midnight when their child is away from home, and driving the family car.