Teen Car Accident Prevention: Advice for Parents
If you're the parent of a newly-licensed teen driver, you may be feeling understandably anxious about the thought of your child behind the wheel. Even with extensive driver's safety training, there is only so much you can do to protect your teen from the many dangers that exist on the open road. And while it may be impossible to guarantee that your teen will never be involved in an auto accident, there are some steps you can take to ensure your teen is being safe and responsible behind the wheel.
Teen Drivers and Auto Accidents
It's a scary fact for many parents: car accidents are the leading cause of death among teens in the United States. Teen drivers tend to operate vehicles more recklessly and thus are at greater risk of causing an accident. As you may have noticed if you're paying for your teen's auto insurance, your premiums may also increase substantially until your teen driver has a few years of driving experience without any major tickets or accidents.
Common Causes of Teen Driving Accidents
There are many specific causes of teen driving accidents that parents need to be aware of. These days, the single most common factor that contributes to motor vehicle accidents (not just among teens, but among all motorists in the United States) is distracted driving. Often times, this comes in the form of using a cell phone to text, talk on the phone, take pictures, or even post on social media while driving.
Other possible forms of distracted driving among teens may include (but are not limited to):
- playing music that's too loud
- being distracted by other passengers in the vehicle
- eating while driving
- applying makeup while driving
Essentially, anything that takes your teen's focus and attention away from the road is considered distracted driving and is extremely dangerous. In fact, it is estimated that driver distraction is responsible for nearly 60% of auto accidents involving teen drivers.
In addition to distracted driving, some other common causes of teen driving accidents include:
- speeding and following too closely
- overall inexperience behind the wheel
- other forms of reckless driving
Keeping Your Teen Safe: What You Need to Know
As a parent, it can be scary to think about all the scenarios in which your teen could be at-risk behind the wheel. The good news is that there are steps you can take to help your teen driver stay safe.
For starters, communicate with your teen about the serious dangers of distracted driving. Explain to your teen that you have zero tolerance for cell phone use or other forms of distracted driving. There is even an online pledge that you can have your teen sign in order to maintain driving privileges.
Limiting the number of passengers your teen is allowed to have in his or her vehicle is another way to reduce the risk of distracted driving. Often times, having too many passengers can lead to rowdy behavior, which can keep your teen from focusing on the road ahead of them. Consider a strict rule of no more than two passengers in your teen's car at any given time, especially during the first year of driving.
Finally, take time to be a passenger while your teen drives and make sure he or she confident behind the wheel. You might even consider enrolling your teen in additional driver safety courses (such as a defensive driving class) to provide them with added training and experience.
Review Your Auto Insurance Coverage Today
While there is no way to guarantee that your teen will never be involved in an auto accident, there are plenty of steps you can take to make sure your teen is being as safe as possible behind the wheel. Still, it's not a bad idea to revisit your auto insurance policy and make sure your teen is properly covered—especially since he or she is at a statistically higher risk of being in an accident at this age.
Specifically, you should make sure your teen has enough liability and property damage coverage. If he or she will be driving the family car, you'll want to review your comprehensive and collision coverage as well. For teens driving an older, hand-me-down car, you may still want to consider comprehensive/collision coverage (though this will depend on the value and condition of the vehicle itself).
Be sure to take advantage of insurance discounts for your teen driver, too. Many insurance companies offer discounts for teens who get good grades on their report cards, or teens who have taken an approved defensive driving course. Because teens are statistically high-risk drivers, you can expect your auto insurance premiums to be high for a few years—but shopping around and taking advantage of discounts can make a big difference.