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Parental Involvement May Keep Teen Drivers Safer On The Road This Summer

teen driver (select to view enlarged photo)

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners offers tools and resources to help teens drive safe and save on insurance

KANSAS CITY, MO--June 18, 2013: More teenage motor vehicle fatalities happen in summer than any other time of year. While teen driving statistics are troubling, research shows teens whose parents set rules are half as likely to get in an accident. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has compiled tips and resources, including a Teen Driving Contract, for parents. Educating yourself and your new teen driver about the risks and insurance implications of unsafe driving can save lives and money.

The NAIC's Teen Driving Contract  is a customizable Web interface for creating a formal agreement between parent and teenager that defines the rules and consequences associated with driving privileges. Users select from pre-written rules, such as always wearing a seatbelt and never texting while driving, and associated consequences, including loss of driving privileges. Users also can write in their own rules prior to creating a handy printout for signatures and easy reference.

"As parents, the ultimate goal when our kids start driving is to ensure their safety and the safety of others. That starts with establishing expectations," said Jim Donelon, NAIC President and Louisiana Insurance Commissioner. "The good news is that by setting boundaries, we are making the roads safer for everyone. As a parent and insurance commissioner, I know that fewer accidents is a goal we can all get behind."

Setting Expectations
Inexperience, distracted driving, speeding and drug or alcohol use are major contributors to teen-related crashes. One way to help your teen become a safer driver is to talk openly about your expectations for when they're behind the wheel.

  • Set a driving curfew. More than 40 percent of teen auto deaths occur between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
  • Put a limit on the number of passengers allowed in your teen's car. For teenagers, the relative risk of a fatal crash increases as the number of passengers increases.
  • Make the cell phone off limits while driving. Talking and texting on a cell phone can double the likelihood of an accident.
  • Encourage your teen to exercise his or her rights as a passenger. Only 44 percentof teens say they would speak up if someone were driving in a way that scared them.

Tyler Presnell, founder of the Tyler Presnell Foundation, knows firsthand the consequences of not speaking up. Since suffering life-threatening injuries at age 14 when a friend lost control of the car, Presnell has dedicated his life to raising awareness of what he calls "disrespectful driving." Presnell is partnering with the NAIC to help raise awareness about the importance of safe and respectful driving, especially among teens.

"Respect for driving and common courtesy on the road show you care not only about your life, but also the lives of others," said Presnell. "Individuals behind-the-wheel and passengers owe consideration to those around them."

These safety measures also may help save money on auto insurance because even minor fender-benders can drive up costs.

Keeping Costs Down

  • Encourage teen drivers to keep his or her driving records free of accidents and moving violations for at least three years. Many companies grant discounts to "safe drivers."
  • Enroll new drivers in a defensive driving course. Some companies offer discounts for completion.
  • Some companies may offer driver awareness programs, either online or with a smartphone app for young drivers. Ask your insurance agent or company if there is a discount for using these programs.
  • Encourage teen drivers to keep their grades up. Many insurance companies offer discounts or preferred rates for teens at particular GPA levels.
  • Ask your insurance company about an "accident forgiveness" clause that guarantees premiums will not increase after one minor accident.
  • Consider a higher deductible and only allowing the teen to drive the family's oldest, least expensive car. The type of vehicle also will affect the policy premium. SUVs, convertibles and performance vehicles typically cost more to insure than other cars.

While education and preparation can help, accidents still happen. In the event of an auto accident, make sure everyone knows what steps to take to stay safe and protect their identity when exchanging information for a claim. The NAIC's free WreckCheck app (available at iTunes and Google Play) guides users through what to do -- and not do -- after an accident. The app helps drivers collect necessary information on the spot, then immediately emails a report to your home and your insurance agent.