But we can do something about it.
We can help save the lives of our teens by talking with them about safe driving. There are dozens of safety tips we could talk about with them. The Centers for Disease Control lists eight "Danger Zones" on their excellent parent resource website. (I encourage you to visit it.) But I'm going to limit this article to just five simple rules:
1. Drive a safe car.
You'll notice that there is a "Best Choices" category, but that can get expensive. After all, many of us can't afford to shell out $20,000 or more for our kid's first car. Fortunately, the IIHS also includes a list of "Good Choices," all for under $10,000. Just keep scrolling down the list until you find that category.
And even if you and your teen can't afford any of the vehicles on those lists, there are three additional choices that everyone can make, regardless of budget:
- Lower the horsepower. Don't tempt your teens with speed.
- If it's an older car, bigger is better. Heavier vehicles are safer.
- Check out the safety ratings for an older car here and here before you buy.
You see, the insurance companies understand safety too. Often, the car insurance rates reflect safety. Safer cars usually mean lower insurance premiums. Ask a California insurance agent who has years of experience working with the teenage driver insurance rates. He or she should be willing to take the time you need to compare rates and get the best premium possible. If you need a new agent with that kind of experience, call me, Jerry Farcone. I'll work patiently with you to figure out what works best for you. My number is (888) 327-2663.
2. Slow down.
In over 800 vehicle crashes involving teenage drivers, 21% of the accidents involved teens going too fast. That's according to a study in the academic journal Accident Analysis and Prevention. You can be the best driver in the world. But it's still harder to recover from an unexpected bump in the road or an unfamiliar curve when the car is going faster. It's no insult to your teenager's ability to drive. It's just simple physics.
3. Pay attention.
We all know that texting while driving (hey- that includes Facebooking too) kills people. Plus it's illegal in most states. But texting is not the only thing that kills our kids. It's can be laughing and talking with their friends- especially when their friends are in the backseat. It's also eating that fast food value meal... Big Mac, fries and a large Coke®.
Seriously, anything that's going on inside the car that takes their eyes off the road is a lethal enemy. Have the talk. Sit down tonight and discuss all the ways that eyes come off the road, and figure out how to keep that from happening. Maybe offer to do it together. A pact. No more Big Macs and driving. It's a thought.
4. Scan the road.
Instead, most of us instinctively look just over the hood of our car. We fail to see what dangers are coming up... the car that swerved in front of a delivery truck two hundred yards ahead or the falling couch from an overloaded trailer.
We also need to teach our teens how to scan the road side to side. Dangers aren't always just in front of us. Train your teen to scan intersections before entering them, and have their foot ready for the brake just in case . You may have the right of way... and still end up dead.
Spend time talking about hypothetical situations. Go to websites that discuss safe driving such as this website. The more we keep the subject of scanning the road in their minds... the more likely it could save their life one day.
5. Buckle up.
Buckling your seat belts is common sense, and it's the law. But that doesn't mean your teen buckles up when you aren't there to see if they do. Studies show that somewhere around 55% of teens do not wear their seat belts. A 2012 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed that of all teens (age 13-19) in the United States who died in traffic accidents, 55% were not wearing seat belts. Here are the big stats on teen drivers... if you haven't checked out any other links, this one is worth reading.
Moms and Dads, don't assume your young adults are buckling up. Ask them. Then tell them that you want them to come home alive tonight.
What's the next step?
I'm your Farmers Insurance insurance agent in Rancho Santa Margarita, and this subject matters to me. Please call me to talk about your teenage driver, and let's make sure they are safe and properly insured too.
Jerry Farcone, (888) 327-2663