The statistics regarding teenage drivers and auto safety are not only frightening, but have serious implications for the affordability of their parents’ auto insurance policies.
In 2009, every single day, 16 to 19 teenage drivers died from injuries sustained in an automobile crash. This makes young drivers four times more likely to be killed in a crash than older motorists. The vast majority of these accidents were preventable.
How bad are the teen auto accident numbers?
The more than 350,000 accidents involving teens in 2009 resulted in 3,000 deaths. Considering that:
- the 15-24 age group represents only 14 percent of the population of the nation,
- but 30 percent of the cost of motor vehicle crashes among males,
- and 28 percent among females . . .
shows the highly disproportionate risk profile of this age group.
Taken as a whole, these crashes cost about $26 billion a year. The insurance industry gets those expenses back in the most predictable way imaginable: higher rates. Since males age 15 to 19 are twice as likely to die in an automobile accident than their female contemporaries, families with boys are going to pay the highest auto insurance premiums.
The risks are especially high during the first year a teen is behind the wheel, and shoot up exponentially for every passenger in the car. Since teens love to joy ride with their friends, everyone in the car is experiencing a greatly elevated danger.
What puts teens at such a greater risk behind the wheel?
A number of factors interact to make teen drivers the highest risk category of all motorists:
- Due to inexperience, teens routinely underestimate the dangers of a situation or even to recognize that the circumstances are hazardous.
- Teens are very prone to both speeding and tailgating and do not wear their seat belts.
- Drinking is a major contributor to teen auto deaths, being a factor in more than a quarter of fatalities in this age group.
- More than 50 percent of teen deaths occur on the weekend between the hours of 3 p.m. and midnight.
- Distraction behind the wheel is a major problem for teens involving eating, cell phone use, interaction with passengers, music, and taking their eyes off the road.
Each of these factors is a serious enough element in teen auto accidents, but frequently more than one is present at the same time. For instance, the deadly combination of distracted driving while drinking, speeding, and not wearing a seatbelt.
What can parents do?
Obviously the old methods of taking the keys away, limiting gasoline money, or grounding your teen driver are not completely effective. Families that are hard-pressed to keep up with their busy lives generally welcome another driver in the family.
The best methods for keeping track on modern teens are GPS tracking systems and in-cabin tech that allows “profiles” for given drivers. With these technologies, parents can limit the engine’s top speed, prevent “cranking” the audio, and stop the engine from turning over unless the seat belts are engaged.
When seeking auto coverage for a teen driver, the only way to ensure cheap insurance is to prove you are, in some way, monitoring and mitigating your teen driver’s behavior. Advanced driver’s education classes are also a help, but be prepared. Even with mitigating safety measures, your teens are among the riskiest class of motorists and are thus some of the most expensive to insure.