| Driving
African American teen driver in red car, hitting the road for the first time

Congratulations! With their driver’s license in hand, your teen is well on their way to independence, adulthood, and taking over more of the household chores (hey, a mom and dad can dream, right?!). Having a new driver in the house can be awesome, but it can also be a little scary. There are more people who can help run errands, but there are also more people jockeying for use of the car and more people who could potentially run into trouble on the road. According to the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 15- to 20-year olds. To help calm your nerves and keep your teen driver safe out on the road, check out these six house rules for your family’s newest young driver.

1. Take a stand against multi-tasking while driving

Distraction is a major factor in teen crashes. In fact, when researchers from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety analyzed the six seconds leading up to a crash in nearly 1,700 videos of teen drivers, the results showed that distraction was a factor in 58% of all crashes studies. Put simply, 6 out of 10 teen crashes involve driver distraction. If you’re a parent, that’s a pretty worrisome statistic. So what could teens be up to behind the wheel, besides driving? The majority of them (15%) were interacting with one or more passengers in the vehicle, which leads us to our next suggestion…

2. Limit the number of passengers in the car

Research by the AAA Foundation shows that the risk of 16- or 17-year old drivers being killed in a crash increases with each additional passenger in the vehicle. This risk increases 44% with one passenger, doubles with two passengers, and quadruples with three or more passengers.

Talk to your teen about why it’s important to limit the number of friends they have in the car with them and how they should handle a situation when multiple people are pressuring them for a ride. You may also want to check your state’s laws for new drivers, as some states have legal restrictions on the number and type of passenger a new driver can have in their vehicle during their first and second years of driving.

In some states, like Virginia, drivers under 18 can only have one passenger under 21 in the car during their first year of driving, unless a parent is in the car as well. After the first year, they can have up to three passengers under 21 in the car, but only if they are heading to or from school.

3. Set clear consequences for traffic tickets

By clearly defining the consequences or outcome of traffic tickets before you hand over the car keys, you could reduce the risk of a frustrating conflict with your teen. Talk to them about how much typical parking tickets, speeding tickets, and other citations cost, how it could impact their driving record, and how multiple violations could even lead to an uptick in the cost of insurance. Coming to an agreement ahead of time about who will pay for traffic tickets could help prevent a misunderstanding down the road.

4. Make buckling up a must

In 2015, 6.1% of teens reported rarely or never wearing a seatbelt in the recent past. Fortunately, this is nearly a 20% decrease since 1991, reports the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)! While teens are buckling up more and more, there are still many that choose not to. Forgetting to “click it” could lead to a hefty fine (up to $200 in Texas), not to mention an increased chance of death in the event of a vehicle crash. While buckling up is a great guideline to set for your newest driver, it’s also a great guideline to follow as the parent of a teen driver.

5. Say “no” to drinking and driving

Talk to your teen about the real dangers of driving under the influence or of getting in the car with someone who’s been drinking. Thankfully, the percentage of teens in high school who drink and drive has decreased by more than half since 1991, reports the CDC, however one in 10 teens in high school still drinks and drives. At Direct Auto Insurance, that’s a statistic we’d love to see go down to zero. If your new driver finds themselves in a situation where they’re being asked to drink and drive or ride with someone who’s been drinking, what should they do? Every parent’s answer will likely be different, but one option is to tell your teen to call you—no questions asked.

6. Limit driving at night

Driving at night is riskier than daytime driving for all drivers, and even more so for new drivers. A whopping 53% of teen crash fatalities occur between 6pm and 6am, notes Teens in the Driver Seat, which is one reason many states set nighttime restrictions for new drivers. Low visibility and glare from oncoming headlights make it difficult for any driver to see at night, regardless of their level of experience.

For more great tips for driving with your teen, watch this quick video!

A smart teen driver is a covered teen driver. Talk to your insurance company today about how you may be able to save money on cheap car insurance for teen drivers through great discounts like a “Good Student” or “Multi-Car” discount. Give us a call at 1-877-GO-DIRECT (1-877-463-4732) today or stop by a Direct Auto location near you. A cheaper rate on your teen’s car insurance could be just a click or a phone call away!

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