What to do When You Have a Teenage Driver
Becoming a teenage driver seems like a “right of passage” from childhood into becoming an adult. Your little boy or girl turns 17 and MUST have a car because everyone in school has one. Teens crave the freedom away from Mom and Dad, acceptance by their peers and the ability to show off (with the right vehicle of course!).
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of teen death in the United States. An average of 6,000 teens die and another 300,000 are injured annually across the nation. Teens crash for many reasons, but the most common are overconfidence, speeding, impaired driving, distraction and inexperience. In addition, seat belt use among teens is the lowest of any age group on the road.
In the United States, teens (17 to 20 years of age) are invovled in 15% of crashes, but in Maryland they are involved in a shocking 22% of crashes! Recent statistics from the Maryland Transportation Institute show that motor vehicle crashes are now the #1 killer of teens in America, and while crashes account for only 2% of all deaths nationwide, they account for a surprising 70% of teen injury deaths. Speed, distraction, fatigue and inexperience, coupled with a lack of seat belt use, are all prevalent factors in these fatal crashes.
Maryland is one of many states that have enacted Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws for teenage drivers.
Graduated driver licensing is designed to introduce teenage drivers to driving in stages, over an extended period of time, in an environment that minimizes risk. A teen typically progresses through a permit phase, where he or she practices with supervision, to a provisional or probationary phase, which allows for independent driving with restrictions. Following successful completion of this phase, a teen is granted full driving privileges. The key here to educating the young driver is practice. As parents or guardians of the new teen driver, we should spend as much time as possible helping the newly licensed driver to practice their new skills behind the wheel.
Drivers holding a GDL license have the following restrictions placed upon them:
- May not drive between midnight and 5:00am
- May not have more than one passenger in the car who is under 21 and not an immediate family member
- May not use a cell phone (including hands free), or any other hand held electronic device
- Driver and ALL passengers must wear seat belts
Once the new driver has completed at least 6 months of driving, and is at least 16 years old, they can apply and receive a standard Maryland driver’s license with no restrictions.
When our kids became teenage drivers, we had them sign a teen driver contract. It is a simple agreement between the teen driver and the parents. it spells out the rules of the road and what consequences they will face if any of those rules are broken.
Maryland Fraud Laws and Auto Insurance
Insurance statistics show that since the youthful driver is significantly more likely to have an accident than a typical adult driver, so there will be a higher premium charged when the youthful driver is added to the parents policy.
There is a temptation then to “forget” to add the new driver to the auto policy or not list the new driver on your renewal questionnaire in order to save money even though the child is driving Mom or Dad’s car. We caution you against this practice. The State of Maryland has certain fraud laws in this area that will allow an insurance company to deny a claim in the event the driver is an undisclosed household operator. In addition, the Attorney General has the ability to fine the policy holder in the range of thousands of dollars.
Insurance-Friendly Cars For Teens
The decision is made. You want to buy your son or daughter their first car. It will be in your name and properly added to your policy. But what to buy? You know it’s not only the car model you have to consider. You also have to think about the impact the car will have on your auto insurance.
Auto Insurance companies surcharge youthful operators in three areas:
- Comprehensive (theft)
- Collision (damage caused to the vehicle in an accident
If you choose a vehicle that may be older, and does not require comprehensive or collision (a lower value vehicle) the premium will be considerably less than a newer one which will require full coverage.
Because we represent many different companies, your Huff Insurance agent can help you make the right decision when buying that first car for your teenager.