If you’re nervous about your teenager getting behind the wheel, you have good reason to be concerned. Teen drivers are four times as likely to crash as older drivers, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Since two major contributors to these accidents are immaturity and lack of experience, parents can play an important role in getting kids off to a good start.
- Discourage seat belt excuses. “Teens’ explanations include ‘I was just going down the block,’ ‘No one else wears them’ and ‘They’re too uncomfortable,’” says Anne Marie Hayes, president of the Teens Learn to Drive Foundation. “But there are no good excuses.”
- Take a hands-on approach. Experts recommend that teens drive for only 100 hours, supervised, during the first year. “This is structured, active parent coaching,” Hayes says. “Make sure to have your child practice on all kinds of roads, in various lighting and weather conditions.” Model good driving practices at all times with your children, no matter what age they are.
- Encourage a whole road perspective. Help your child take advantage of the entire panorama of visual detail before them. “They must take note of any cars pulling away from side parking spots and watch for pedestrians who might cut across the path from either sidewalk,” says Susan Kuczmarski, author of The Sacred Flight of the Teenager: A Parent’s Guide to Stepping Back and Letting Go. “Then check for pedestrians on the crosswalk at the approaching stop sign. Monitor the rear-view mirror for activity behind the driver, and always look for fast-moving rollerbladers, bicyclists and pets that might suddenly cross in front.”
- Talk it out. When doing a ride-along with your teen, ask him or her to describe the decisions being made during the drive. This will help you understand his or her thought processes. “Listen closely to see if your teen is missing anything,” Kuczmarski says. “Give feedback based on both what you’re hearing and on the driving.” Similarly, when you’re driving, let your teen know why you make certain choices on the road in the interest of safety.
- Get it in writing. Many families come up with a driving agreement that spells out specific penalties for violations. Obviously, texting or talking on the phone while behind the wheel is a clear violation that needs to be addressed. Consider adding respect for traffic lights, right-of-way rules and speed limits. “This way, when a friend in the car tells your teen, ‘Speed up!’ your teen will know that he or she could lose driving privileges for a month,” Hayes says.
3 Tips to Help Teens and Families Save on Auto Insurance
When you add your teen driver to your insurance policy, your premiums will go up. You might not realize how many discounts you may be able to capture to keep that increase as low as possible, though.
At the same time your teen applies for a learners permit, speak to your Nationwide agent about your family’s insurance options. Ask about discounts for teens as well as general opportunities to offset some of the increase in cost. Here are three ideas to get the conversation started.
1. Good Student Discount. Nationwide offers up to a 15 percent discount on auto insurance when your teen maintains a B average or above. Ask your agent whether you can take advantage of an additional discount after your child completes an approved driver’s education course.
2. Family Plan. If the adults in your household are earning discounts, why not apply them to other drivers living in your home—including your teen? Family Plan allows you to share some of your discounts—saving you up to 25 percent on your auto insurance premiums compared to other companies.*
3. Vanishing Deductible. Being rewarded for driving well just makes sense. When you add this option, you can take $100 off your deductible for each year of safe driving, up to $500.**
Putting a teen behind the wheel can be stressful and expensive—as well as exciting. Talk to your agent about reducing your stress and your costs. That way, you can focus on the fun part.
Our thanks to our friends at Nationwide for sharing these helpful tips. Nationwide can help protect what is most important to you. To learn more about insurance coverage from Nationwide click here.
Products underwritten by Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company and Affiliated Companies. Home Office: Columbus, OH 43215. Subject to underwriting guidelines, review, and approval. Products and discounts not available to all persons in all states. * Potential savings based on comparison to major national competitors, for a teen driver on their parents’ policy, conducted 2008. ** Vanishing Deductible is an optional feature. Annual credits subject to eligibility requirements. Max. credit: $500. Details and availability vary by state. Nationwide, Nationwide Insurance, and Vanishing Deductible are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.
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