Teenage Drivers: What Matters Most?

Published by Shannon Price

Parents of newly licensed drivers are often thunderstruck by the high cost of adding their newly licensed teenage driver to their automobile insurance policy. While managing insurance costs is surely important for every family, helping teenage drivers reduce their vulnerability to a life-changing accident should be a much greater concern than the high cost of insurance.

The High Cost SHOULD be Alarming!

The high cost to insure teen drivers reflects the much greater risk to insure inexperienced drivers, and those greater risks should also concern parents and teens. Stated simply, younger inexperienced drivers are not only more frequently involved in accidents, those accidents are often much more severe. This table reveals that teenage and young drivers age 16-20 have the highest fatality rates of all drivers in a study conducted by the National Highway Safety Administration.

Drivers In Fatal Motor Vehicle Crashes By Age, 2017

Other factors to be aware of:

  • Automobile accidents are the number one killer of our nation’s youth.
  • Drivers under the age of 20 were involved in 13% of all accidents, yet they account for only 5% of all drivers.
  • 5,000 teenagers die each year from auto accidents.
  • Alcohol is responsible for almost half of all teen motor vehicle deaths.
  • 25% of all teen accidents involve speeding.
  • Half of all teenage traffic fatalities occur between 6:00 p.m. Friday and 3:00 a.m. Sunday.
  • In one year, drivers 19 and under were involved in close to 3 million motor vehicle accidents.

Source: Insurance Information Institute: http://www.iii.org/

The Reasons for the Alarming Statistics

There is ample research and a lot of helpful content to provide teens and their parents with the important answers explaining why the risks are so great. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides this excellent two-page document, “Eight Danger Zones for Teens Behind the Wheel,” that risk advisers can distribute to consumers detailing the following “eight danger zones” that contribute most significantly to accidents among teens. This document also prescribes the actions parents can take to reduce each of these risks.

The CDC’s Eight Danger Zones

  1. Driver Inexperience
  2. Driving with Teen Passengers
  3. Nighttime Driving
  4. Not Using Seat Belts
  5. Distracted Driving
  6. Drowsy Driving
  7. Reckless Driving
  8. Impaired Driving

A Rapidly Growing Risk: Distracted Driving

While statistics indicate impaired driving among teens is on a modest recent decline, few will be surprised to learn that driving while distracted is a rapidly increasing trend among teenage drivers. In a 2015 study incorporating the use of video to examine the causes of accidents involving teenage drivers, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found significant evidence that distracted driving is a far more significant risk than previously known. AAA’s unprecedented video analysis revealed driver distraction was a factor in nearly 6 out of 10 moderate-to-severe teen crashes—four times higher than was previously estimated on police accident reports.

Many Resources Available to Manage These Risks

Parents of teens drivers should be aware there are many effective resources and free tools to help them establish clear expectations and safe-driving practices, including the following.

Considering the heightened focus on distracted driving, parents should feel especially motivated to protect their family’s least experienced and most vulnerable drivers. The resources spotlighted in this article provide a great opportunity for families with teen drivers to reduce the risk of accidents and heartache. Independent insurance brokers who serve their clients as personal risk advisers are also a great resource to help their clients understand how best to manage this risk.

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