The time has come for your teen to hit the road. While it's exciting for you and your child, it can also be nerve-wracking and costly. Your child will likely make mistakes, but it's important to make sure they learn from them, so take a breath and prepare them for the road ahead. Your teen will need guidance to become a safe and smart driver.
Teen drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 have the highest motor vehicle crash and violation rates out of any other age group. According to the CDC, teens are more likely to have difficulty determining dangerous driving situations and are more likely to make crucial mistakes that can lead to crashes. This is likely due to their inexperience on the road. Thousands of teens are injured in car crashes each year, and it translates to six teens dying each day due to injuries from a car accident. The statistics are staggering, but many of the car accidents teens are involved in can be prevented with the right preparation and by avoiding certain risks.
Teens might not be aware of the dangers they face as new drivers. As they become more experienced, safe driving will become a habit if that habit is started and encouraged from the start. We've created a list of tips to keep teen drivers safe that can help give you peace of mind when they take the keys and hit the road.
1. Take a driver's ed course
Driver's education is a good idea for new drivers and some states require people to take the course before they can get their license. Driver's ed will teach the basic driving laws and safety tips while warning teens of dangers on the road and preparing them for emergency situations. Driver's education likely involves a classroom portion of the course as well as hours spent behind the wheel on one-on-one road lessons with an expert instructor from the driving school. Driving school students may also need to complete hours of observation in which they are a passenger in the back seat of a car during someone else's road lesson, observing what happens and learning. Even if driver's ed is not required by your state, you should consider enrolling your child. Many insurance companies offer a discount if you have completed a driver's education course.
2. Set good driving examples as parents
After many years of riding as a passenger in your car, your child will often pick up on your driving habits. When you're driving with your teen in the car, make sure to practice safe driving habits yourself to set a good example for him or her. Make sure to always wear your seatbelt, use turn signals and thoroughly check before making a turn or switching lanes. Always be a defensive driver and avoid distracted driving and aggressive driving. Additionally, try to remain calm when your teen driver is driving and you are teaching them. If he or she does something wrong, always explain why it's wrong and treat every situation as a teaching opportunity.
3. Obey the speed limits
A big problem for teens on the road is speeding. In 2016, 31 percent of teen driver deaths were a result of speeding, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). You should teach teen drivers to always be aware of the speed limit and know what speeds are safe in certain areas. You can avoid costly tickets and improve safety a great deal by avoiding a lead foot. It may also be difficult for teens to regulate their speed correctly before they get a feel for it. Make sure they're consistently checking their speedometer until they can get used to the appropriate speed.
4. Educate teen drivers on what to do in emergencies
Before your child drives alone, make sure they have a first-aid kit and a vehicle emergency kit in their car, including jumper cables. It's a good idea to make your teen driver as prepared as possible for anything that might happen. They should know what to do if they get into an accident and what to do if they break down. It's a good idea to get your child roadside assistance coverage. It may be included on some auto insurance policies but if not, it can be added on for little cost while giving you priceless peace of mind. Additionally, you should educate your teen on what different emergency lights and alerts in the car mean.
5. Know the car's features and adjust the seat and mirrors before driving
In addition to knowing the emergency lights in the car, your teen needs to know how to use all of the car's features like the windshield wipers, emergency break or hazard lights. Before your teen drives the car, make sure they're comfortable with the position of the seat and steering wheel. They need to adjust all mirrors and make sure they can effectively see out of them.
6. Avoid distracted driving
Distracted driving is at an all-time high, and it's especially dangerous for inexperienced drivers to be distracted behind the wheel. Teen drivers should turn cell phones off and put them out of sight. They should also avoid other distractions, such as eating or playing with the radio. It's best to warn your child of the dangers of distracted driving and encourage safe habits. Additionally, if you know your child is driving, avoid calling and texting them until you know they're not behind the wheel and can safely answer.
7. Don't drive with friends
Teenagers driving with friends in the car can cause added distractions and lead to unsafe driving. They shouldn't drive with friends as passengers until they have a sufficient amount of driving experience and knowledge. States have different laws regarding passengers allowed in the vehicle when you are a new driver. Commonly, teens are not allowed to drive anyone in their car for the first year or so of having their license unless they are immediate family.
8. Buckle up
It may seem like a no-brainer that you always need to wear your seatbelt while in a car, but millions of people still don't wear seatbelts. According to the NHTSA, 48 percent of people who died in a car accident in 2016 were not wearing seatbelt restraints. Seatbelts save thousands of lives and should be worn at all times.
9. Limit driving at night
While your teen may not realize it, driving at night is very different from driving in the day time. The NHTSA reports that four out of every ten teen deaths resulting from a car crash happen at night. If your teen needs to drive at night, make sure they know how to work the car's headlights and high beams. Some states enforce a curfew for teen drivers in which they are not allowed to drive after a certain time in the evening.
10. Watch the weather
Treacherous weather is a danger on the roads for all drivers, but it can be worse for inexperienced teen drivers. Make sure to always watch the weather and avoid having your child drive when dangerous weather, including heavy rain, is in the forecast. If you live in an area that is often affected by inclement weather, teach them safety tips while driving in the weather and help them determine when it is too dangerous to drive. If a teen driver gets caught in a storm, he or she should pull over and get off the road until it is safe to proceed.
If you're an experienced driver on the road, watch out for teen drivers. They may make frustrating mistakes but remember that you were once a new driver yourself. Respect student driver marked cars and keep everyone safe on the road by practicing safe habits yourself.
Insuring your teen driver
Once your teen passes the road test and gets his or her license, it's time to get them insured. You should expect increases in your insurance rates. Young drivers are seen as a bigger risk to insurance companies and therefore cost more to insure. While you can get your child his or her own insurance policy rather than adding your child onto your own policy, a separate policy is often more expensive than adding them to your policy.
It might be a good time to consider a different insurance carrier and shop around for a better price and coverage. You should read reviews and ratings and use your research to decide which companies to get quotes from. You'll also need to decide what kind of coverage and what deductible to get your teen driver if he or she has their own car.
Don't forget about discounts! Insurance companies offer many discounts to help lower the cost of insurance premiums. For example, you can save when you add your teen driver to your policy by earning discounts for insuring multiple vehicles on one policy. And if your teen has good grades in school, you may also qualify for a good student discount.
The initial quote to insure your teen driver may be shocking at first. However, over time your teen driver's insurance rates will decrease as they gain more experience. To see your rates decrease, your teen should remain violation and accident free.
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