Accidents can?t always be avoided. Even if your teenager is a safe driver who makes good choices on the road, there are many other variables at work. Distractions, bad weather, and poor road conditions can all play a part in causing collisions. Auto accidents can threaten your child?s safety and can also lead to higher insurance premiums. However, if you teach your student driver how to prevent car accidents by being a defensive driver, the possibility of an accident ? and higher premiums ? can be greatly reduced.
Distractions Can Be Deadly
Avoiding distractions is the easiest way to cut down on the chances of an accident, but unfortunately, distracted driving is extremely common. According to distracted driving statistics on Distraction.gov, a government website that exists to educate drivers on the dangers of distraction, 18% of collisions that led to injuries in 2010 were the result of distractions. Student drivers are especially at risk, as 11% of drivers under 20 who were involved in accidents that caused deaths were distracted drivers.
Texts and Phone Calls
One of the biggest distractions for young drivers is cell phone use. Teens and adults alike have a tendency to answer phone calls and reply to text messages while driving. According to Distraction.gov, using a cell phone while driving can cause the driver to miss out on 4.6 seconds of road time, which can then cause an accident. Firmly instruct your teen to avoid reading and replying to text messages, and encourage them to save phone calls for off the road.
Eating on the Go
Other distractions can lead to collisions as well. Eating, reading, or even changing a radio station can cause a driver to take his or her eyes off the road and thereby risk a collision. Cutting down on those distractions ? or even avoiding them entirely ? can help decrease the possibility of an accident.
Tip: Draft a driving contract to establish firm expectations in relation to your teen?s driving behavior. Avoiding distractions like texting and driving is an excellent place to start on a driving contract, but to learn more visit our article on Driving Contracts. These contractual agreements require teens to accept terms as confirmed by a signature, making it easier for parents to revoke privileges when a teen displays irresponsible behavior.
Bad Weather Can Challenge Teen Driving Skills
Not all accidents are caused by distractions. Bad weather usually means poor driving conditions and these elements can challenge even the most experienced drivers. Parents of teen drivers must teach their children how to drive defensively in all conditions. Some common ways to counter the effects of bad weather include the following:
Fog: When it is foggy out, have your student use his or her low beam lights. Low beams will help increase visibility without causing a reflection off of the fog. Also encourage your student to use windshield defrosters and, if necessary, open windows.
Snow and Sleet: It?s best not to drive when it?s snowing or sleeting outside, but if your student has no choice, advise him or her to keep a clear windshield and to drive slowly. It is also important to avoid bridges and overpasses, as they can become icy and cause a vehicle to skid.
Floods: Under no circumstances is it ever safe to drive through flooded roads. A very low six inches of water is enough to cause a vehicle to float off of the ground, so avoiding floods is the only way to stay safe. In an emergency situation, if your student?s vehicle winds up in a flood and stalls, tell your student that he or she should abandon the vehicle and seek higher ground immediately.
Although adhering to these guidelines can make a difference in the risk of collisions, they won?t always keep a vehicle from experiencing trouble. It is possible that your student may momentarily lose control of the vehicle. If that happens, here are some ways to avoid a bad accident.
If the vehicle skids, avoid applying too much pressure to the gas or brake. Slowly turn the wheel in the direction of the back of the vehicle until the car straightens out, and look in the direction you want the car to go ? don?t look at where the car is skidding. By pointing your attention to the direction you want the car to go, you?ll have more focus in steering the car back on the roadway and away from danger. If the vehicle continues to skid back and forth, as also called ?fishtailing?, continue to turn the wheel in the direction of the rear.
On wet roads the vehicle?s tires may lift off of the road and skid across patches of water on the roadway, an event known as hydroplaning. If this happens, your student should slowly take his or her foot off of the gas. It?s best to avoid using the brakes, but if that is impossible, tap them gently. Your student should also drive as slowly as possible in wet conditions. To avoid hydroplaning, your student should only drive on tires that have good tread and should avoid making sharp turns or curves.
If your student?s vehicle experiences brake failure, instruct your student to first take his or her foot off of the gas then pump the brakes, which can help build pressure in the braking system, and notify other drivers by putting the hazard lights on. Try to slow down by using the emergency brake and by steering sharply side to side. If possible, use surroundings like a guard rail to also facilitate stopping and, eventually, a safe crash.
Finally, ensure that your student performs routine maintenance on his or her vehicle. Driving a car that is up-to-date on all maintenance procedures is much safer than driving one that is overdue for tweaks and repairs.
The safer your student is behind the wheel, the cheaper it will be to keep him or her insured. While these tips are common knowledge to most adult drivers, the unwritten rules of the road are completely unknown to most teen drivers. Even if students seem to have a good handle on the basics of driving, they will need your help long after the driver?s test is over and their license has been obtained.
Educating your student on how to avoid collisions will decrease the possibility of an accident, keeping your child safe and your insurance premiums low.
Discounts for Student Drivers
For teenagers, a driver?s license represents a new-found level of independence. For parents, it means an increase in insurance premiums. Teen drivers are the most likely to be involved in accidents, and by covering these high-risk drivers on your insurance policy, you can expect an increase in your premiums. Luckily, there are few things your student can do to help keep their insurance costs low.
5 Ways Student Drivers can Save Money on Car Insurance:
1.Make Good Grade
One of the main car insurance student discounts is for good grades. Students who perform well in school are considered responsible and are therefore viewed as a lower risk to insure than students who do poorly. If your student driver has a high grade point average, ask your insurance company if you can mail or fax in a transcript for a discount. Typically, insurance companies will offer discounts to those who have a B or 3.0 overall average in school.
2. Take A Driver?s Ed Course
Another way to get discount car insurance rates is to have your student driver complete a driver?s safety education class. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the best graduated drivers licensing programs can lead to a decrease in collisions of as much as 40% among teenage drivers. As a result, many insurance companies consider students who have completed these programs to be lower insurance risks than those who have not attended driver?s safety education classes.
3. Drive Safely
Additionally, students who have a good driving history can often earn discounts as well, as they are considered less likely to cost the insurance company money. Those who have a history of accidents, on the other hand, will have higher insurance rates. Consider teaching your student driver different ways to decrease the possibility of accidents to keep his or her record clean and your insurance costs low.
4. Avoid Claiming Minor Damage
To keep your student driver?s history with your insurer clear, avoid making an insurance claim over minor scrapes or scratches. Consider whether your student will be keeping the vehicle for the long run, and whether they care much about a couple of extra scrapes. If your student expects to keep the vehicle for longer than five or ten years, minor damage won?t have a significant effect on the car?s value if they try to sell it years from now.
5. Leave The Car At Home
Finally, many student drivers will cost less to insure if they go off to college without bringing a vehicle. In this situation, you can keep your student driver on your policy, but at a discounted rate since he or she will not have daily access to the family vehicles. Typically, students must be living at a school that is over 100 miles away from home to qualify for this discount.
To learn what discounts are available, contact your insurance company. A customer service representative will be able to help you find different ways to lower the overall cost of insuring your teenage driver. Encouraging teens to drive safely is about much more than lowering insurance premiums. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States, and hundreds of thousands of teens sustain injuries in motor vehicle accidents each year. While accident preparedness, maintenance, and accountability can help safeguard against hikes in your insurance rates, these actions also reduce the chances that your teen will be involved in an accident.
Driving Contracts can Curb Bad Habits
There are many driving habits that can be detrimental to your child?s safety. Student drivers are especially susceptible to distractions and poor choices on the road. Factors that don?t typically affect adult drivers, like night driving and passengers, frequently contribute to teen auto accidents. And bad driving habits can lead to far more than minor accidents. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teen drivers, which include drivers between 16 and 19, are three times more likely to be in a fatal crash than adult drivers aged 20 or older. In 2010, almost 3,000 teens died in motor vehicle accidents.
Why Teens Are At Risk
In an age where technology gives students access to social media and constant communication with friends, it?s no wonder that students are so easily lured into the temptation of texting while driving. And that isn?t the only risk ? students who drive with passengers can easily be distracted from paying attention to the road. Those who don?t wear seat belts or perform routine maintenance on their vehicles are also at risk. With this in mind, it?s important for parents to set forth some driving guidelines for their students. Teenage driving contracts, which are written agreements between a parent and a student driver, can help parents set those rules on paper.
Protecting Your Teen From An Accident
You may think your student driver knows what you expect them to do when behind the wheel, but unless you make your rules clear, it may be difficult for teens to keep them in the forefront of their minds. Driving contracts give students clear guidelines for expected driving conduct, and they also clarify the consequences for failing to follow the rules.
Driving contracts between parents and teens can cover a variety of topics, from distracted driving to drowsy driving. Parents are encouraged to consider some of the high risk factors of collisions and incorporate those into a contract. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I want my teen to talk on the phone or texting while driving?
- How do I want my teen to behave when he or she has a passenger?
- ?What precautions should my teen take while driving at night?
- ?Do I want my teen to wear a seat belt while driving?
- ?What types of routine maintenance should my teen perform?
- ?What action should my teen take if he or she is under the influence?
For more inspiration about the different points your contract can cover, you can use example contracts. Many state websites, including Maine, North Carolina, and California, provide contract templates for parents who want to ensure that their teens are safe drivers.
Keep in mind that states have laws that can help you determine the limits on your student driver?s driving activities. For instance, all states consider driving under the influence to be illegal and many also have curfews in place for drivers under the age of 18. However, the exact stipulations may vary.
Once you have your contract written, sit down with your teenager and discuss each point. Make sure your teenager understands what he or she is signing and why. Teenagers who understand the contract and the consequences that result from violating the contract will be more likely to drive safely, which will decrease the probability of an accident and, in turn, keep your insurance rates low.
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About author: Felix Smith is currently finishing up his communications degree and spends his free time by helping out and contributing to CarInsurance.org
Author: Felix Smith- USA