Volvo or Tank? How To Protect Your Teen Driver
One of the scariest thoughts to me is seeing one of my two daughters driving away in a car. At ages 5 and 7, I have a while before that day comes. I often say to my husband “just so you know, they are either going to be driving a Volvo or a tank.” Those two girls mean everything to me.
With that thought in mind, I decided to do a little research on what folks are doing these days to prepare their children for the biggest responsibility they have ever faced. My father used to tell me that driving a car is like holding a gun because it can be just as deadly as a bullet.
He wasn’t wrong. Here are some of the most recent stats published by the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association:
The roads are getting safer for teenagers.
Look at these stats from RMIAA:
Why are the roads getting safer?
All states have now implemented a three-stage graduated licensing program. Many have placed restrictions on the number of passengers a teenage driver may have in the car, including how many passengers under the age of 21 may be in the car.
A 2006 study by Johns Hopkins found a 20% reduction in fatal crashes involving 16-years olds in states with a graduated driving license program. Important components of a GDL program include limits on night time driving and numbers of passengers allowed in the car.
What should parents be doing?
Regardless of the specifics of your state’s GDL program, it’s a good idea for parents to think seriously about what rules will be in place in your household.
Successful graduated driving programs include:
There are many driving programs available for new drivers. One such program is TeenSmart This program uses software that the student uses at home and includes driving exercises to be done with a parent in the car. Many insurance companies offer lower rates to those who complete this program.
Many areas also have driving schools that help students to prepare for the driving exam and go beyond exam preparation to make them safe drivers. One such program is Put on the Brakes. The program includes accident avoidence, wheel drop-off recovery, panic stop, and car control and recovery exercises.
In Sharon Silke Carty’s article So, think teen driving schools are the only answer? Think again she covers the history of driver’s education and some important things to look out for when selecting a driving school for your child.
When it comes time for your child to learn to drive, take it seriously. Set your rules for your child, especially if you live in a state that doesn’t limit night time driving or number of passengers. Help your teenagers study and be certain they know all the rules of the road.
Don’t assume because they’ve been riding in a car with you they’ve absorbed all of the rules of the road. In most states, 50-70% of applicants fail the written test. Find online practice tests that will highlight topic areas that your child needs to review in your state’s Driver’s Manual and that you may need to explain further. DMVCheatSheets offers both review sheets and online practice tests for each state, in English and Spanish.
Recommendations for the Safest Autos for Teenagers
As it turns out, my gut instinct, to buy a Volvo or a tank for my teenager, wasn’t so off. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has found that many teenagers are driving used vehicles that do not offer the safest crash protection and safety technology.
Many parents purchase used vehicles for their teenagers and have budgets below $10,000. The IIHS encourages parents to consider what they are buying the vehicle for and to consider increasing the budget if possible, as often, a safer vehicle can be purchased with more money.
Minicars, small cars and cars with high horsepower are not recommended for teenagers.
Click here for a link to IIHS vehicle recommendations for teenagers.