Friday, April 20, 2012

Should You Toss Your Teen the Keys?

"Can I take the car?" 

New Drivers

These are perhaps the dreaded words a parent of a new driver can hear. On one hand, you want to give your teen some freedom. On the other hand, you think about all that could go wrong and what effects that could have on your insurance rate - hopefully, in that order. Every state has some form of graduated licensing system that should give you at least a little peace of mind. It basically allows your teen driver to obtain on-road driving experience while minimizing risks. General provisions of a graduated license include:

• A certain amount of adult supervision (gotta love those words) required during the learner permit period.
• An extended learner period.
• Seat belt requirements for all passengers plus the driver.
• Restricted hours of driving during the initial driving period after the learner permit period.
  Restricted number of teen passengers permitting in the vehicle during the initial license period.

Even after they’re legal--and the DMV did say so--there are still a few things you should consider.

Talk To You Teen

Yes, at times, talking to your teen can seem like you’re talking to a wall, however, a discussion about his or her driving privileges should get their attention. Go over your rules for driving, not just the state’s. Ask that they repeat your rules back to you whenever you ask them to.  Your teen will no doubt think this is a bit excessive, but they tend to think that about any rules you dish out.
Communicate that any and all driving privileges can be revoked at your discretion. If getting a ticket or getting into a crash doesn’t scare them, losing their right to take the car might.

Creep in the Car

Drive With Your Teen

A surprise shot-gun call by mom or dad is a great way to monitor your child’s driving ability.  While tagging along announced may seem like the cat is out of the bag, most teens will reveal their inner driver sooner rather than later. If they’re on their way to pick up their friends and head out for ice cream, even better. This is a terrific time to check out their attentiveness, concentration, etc. Having friends in the car will give you an opportunity to at least get a glimpse of their driving skills when you’re not there. Don’t like what you see? Invoke your rules and pull the keys if necessary.

Monitor Your Teen

Some car companies now offer a system that will monitor teen driving usually placing a limit on speed. If you’ve got a new driver and you also happen to be in the market for a new car, you might want to consider putting that on your must-have list along with the lower lumbar massage feature. Another option is to have a GPS system installed in your vehicle that offers supporting software. Once activated, you can monitor the location of your car at any given moment from your home computer. It's up to you whether or not you let your teen know they're being monitored, but doing so might give them an extra incentive to be careful. And probably give them the creeps which might give you a chuckle.

Get Real Behind The Wheel (Altamont Raceway)

Insure Your Teen

While having another driver in the house to pick up your youngest from soccer or get milk when you’ve got something on the stove is a tempting thought, the increased premiums you’ll pay for adding an inexperienced driver to your policy will give just about any parent pause. But there are a few things you can do to keep those rates in check. Ask your agent about a good student discount. Insurance companies figure if a child is responsible enough to get consistently good grades, they’re probably responsible enough to obey the laws of the road. Look into teen driver safety classes.  You will have to cover the fees for these classes, but the result may be priceless. Another option is adding a speed monitoring device, or governor to your car. 

And finally, consider what car your teen drives. You’ve got to figure that they’ll be living at home and driving the vehicle you give them for at least a couple of years. A car with the latest safety features will cost you less in insurance for everyone in the family, and may be well worth the investment.

Author Sandy Landsford is an accountant and blogs for, a site where you can get cheap car insurance. Get a quote today! 

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