The following is an article written by Ray Crisci, worldwide auto manager for Chubb Personal Insurance, and published at Risk Conversation.
Q: It is well documented that teen drivers represent a higher risk. Why is that?
A: It’s a combination of inexperience and immaturity. That’s why states have introduced graduated driver’s licenses (GDL) that put limits on the conditions in which teenagers can operate motor vehicles. These restrictions help teenagers gain driving experience in lower-risk situations. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (www.iihs.org) has information about graduated driver’s licenses online, including a page where visitors can search for GDL laws by state.
Q: What kind of car should my teenager drive?
A: Big and slow. Bigger cars will offer more protection if your child is in an accident. Cars with less horsepower will be easier for your teen to handle. Safety features, such as side airbags and stability control, are also important.
Q: What are the most common claims you see involving teen drivers?
A: A lot of young drivers tend to crash into stationary objects at low speeds. Often it’s a pole, a street sign, a parked car or the rear end of a car that has stopped or slowed down in front of them. We also see very serious and sometimes deadly single-vehicle crashes that frequently result from drivers going too fast around a curve. Automobile fatality rates are much higher for teen drivers than for adults.
Q: What are some of the things that teen drivers do to make them a bigger risk on the road?
A: They are often less attentive when other kids are in the car with them. They drive more aggressively and take unnecessary risks. They are overly optimistic, thinking that bad things can’t happen to them. And they tend to drive too fast in inclement weather.
Q: As a parent of a teen driver, what do I need to know about insurance?
A: Most insurance companies won’t list the young driver on the policy until he or she receives a driver’s license. If your teen has his own car, the insurance premium will typically be 30% to 50% higher than if he is driving the parents’ car. Discounts are available from most insurers, including one for successfully completing driver training and a good student discount. Also, some insurers offer a discount for college students who are away at school, so long as they don’t have the car with them and they are more than 100 miles from home. Check with your agent for more information.
Q: Any final words of advice?
A: Communication between parents and new drivers is essential. Parents should set and enforce the rules that will make their kids’ driving experience safer. I also recommend parents and their children sit together and watch this online video, Young Drivers: The High Risk Years. There is additional information about teen drivers online at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety website.
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