Auto insurance for teen drivers

Under normal circumstances, birthdays are a time of celebration in families except, that is, when the age at which teens may start to drive approaches. The young tend to believe they are invulnerable and will never be involved in an accident. The parents who have to pay the insurance rates know the evidence shows tens of thousands of teens injured or killed on the roads every year. Yet, with the inevitability of snow melting (except in some parts of Alaska), parents usually give in and try to make the best of the situation. So what are the best steps to take and how can laws help? First, all young drivers should go through an approved course to learn basic driving skills. In most states, completion of such a course with a good recommendation from the instructor earns a discount. The problem is that parents cannot be inside the vehicle with their teens once they are licensed and drive away. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration independently confirm that teens, as a group, are more likely than any other to drive without using a seat belt or while distracted by the use of technology like a cell phone. Federal research proves that wearing a seat belt reduces the chances of a fatality by 45%. No matter what promises parents get from their children, behavior in the vehicle rarely changes. Unless, that is, there are laws and those laws are properly enforced.

Let's take seat belts as an example. The research shows that if your state is one of the 32 that permits the police to stop every vehicle they see where the driver is not wearing a seat belt and issue a citation, teen drivers are 12% more likely to buckle up themselves and 15% more likely to tell their passengers to do so. But if the state does not enforce the law with any enthusiasm, most teens neglect to buckle up and so are at greater risk of death or serious injury in a crash. So there are 17 states where the police can only issue a citation for a seat belt infraction if the vehicle is stopped for some other reason. New Hampshire does not make it an offense to drive without a seat belt. Even though these citations may not show up on a driver's record for premium rate purposes, the fines can mount up quickly. Arizona, California, Louisiana and New York fine $100 for the first offense. In South Carolina, the first offense will cost $150.

So if you are a parent and you want to pay a lower auto insurance rate on your teen, you should be a good role model. You should always wear a seat belt and remind your teen every time he or she takes the car out on the road. Be prepared to withdraw driving privileges if your teen is cited for seat belt or driving while distracted. It's only if you take a fair but firm line, hopefully backed up by your local police that you can improved your child's chances of coming home in one piece. In this, the auto insurance companies can play a role. Some are even offering cameras so you can monitor your teen's driving in real time.