Teen Will Drive Soon

It seems like a "right of passage" from childhood into becoming an adult. Your little boy or girl turns 17 and MUST have a car because everyone in school has one. Teens crave the freedom away from Mom and Dad, acceptance by their peers and the ability to show off (with the right vehicle of course!).

Teen Driving Statistics

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of teen death in the United States. An average of 6,000 teens die and another 300,000 are injured annually across the nation. Teens crash for many reasons, but the most common are overconfidence, speeding, impaired driving, distraction and inexperience. In addition, seat belt use among teens is the lowest of any age group on the road.

In the United States, teens (17 to 20 years of age) are invovled in 15% of crashes, and in some localized areas that percentage is even higher! Recent statistics show that motor vechicle crashes are now the #1 killer of teens in America, and while crashes account for only 2% of all deaths nationwide, they account for a surprising 70% of teen injury deaths. Speed, distraction, fatigue and inexperience, coupled with a lack of seat belt use, are all prevalent factors in these fatal crashes.

Driver Education

In fact, because of the high death toll involved with teen driving, many states have already enacting Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws.

Graduated Driver Licensing introduces teenage drivers to the road in stages, over an extended period of time and in an environment that minimizes risk. First is the Permit Phase where the teen practices with supervision. Next is the Provisional or Probationary Phase where the teen is allowed independent driving with restrictions. Only after successfully completing both phases will the teen be granted full driving privileges. As your teen learns this new and important skill, practice is very important. As a parent or guardian of a new driver, spend as much time as possible helping and teaching your teen good driving habits.

Many states have restrictive laws that go along with having a GDL license, such as:

  • May not drive between midnight and 5:00am
  • May not have more than one passenger in the car who is under 21 and not an immediate family member
  • May not use a cell phone (including hands free), or any other hand held electronic device
  • Driver and ALL passengers must wear seat belts

These laws may vary a bit by state but are now becoming extremely common. In most states with GDL laws, your child must complete at least 6 months of driving, and be at least 16 years of age, before they can apply for a standard driver's license with no restrictions.

Washington Fraud Laws and Auto Insurance

Insurance statistics show that since the youthful driver is significantly more likely to have an accident than a typical adult driver, so there will be a higher premium charged when the youthful driver is added to the parents policy.

There is a temptation then to "forget" to add the new driver to the auto policy or not list the new driver on your renewal questionnaire in order to save money even though the child is driving Mom or Dad's car. We caution you against this practice. The State of Washington has certain fraud laws in this area that will allow an insurance company to deny a claim in the event the driver is an undisclosed household operator. In addition, the Attorney General has the ability to fine the policy holder in the range of thousands of dollars.

Insurance-Friendly Cars For Teens

The decision is made. You want to buy your son or daughter their first car. It will be in your name and properly added to your policy. But what to buy? You know it's not only the car model you have to consider. You also have to think about the impact the car will have on your auto insurance.

Insurance companies surcharge youthful operators in three areas:

  • Liability
  • Comprehensive (theft)
  • Collision (damage caused to the vehicle in an accident

If you choose a vehicle that may be older, and does not require comprehensive or collision (a lower value vehicle) the premium will be considerably less than a newer one which will require full coverage.

Let us assist you in making a good choice for your teen. Contact Columbia Insurance Group and one of our agents can help you make the right decision when buying that first car for your teenager.