Having a teen driver in the household can be an exciting and also stressful time. Educating yourself and your teen driver about the risks and insurance implications of unsafe driving can save lives and money.
Research suggests teen accident risk is cut in half when parents and teens set ground rules for driving. Talk openly about your expectations for behind-the-wheel behavior.
- Agree on a teen driving contract that clearly defines the rules and consequences associated with driving privileges.
- Set a driving curfew. More than 40 percent of teen auto deaths occur between the 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. In Washington state, teen drivers are not allowed on the road between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. the first 12 months they are licensed.
- Limit the number of passengers. Washington state limits who can ride with new drivers for the first six months they are licensed.
- Make all cell phone use off-limits while driving. In 2015, distracted driving accounted for 30 percent of the state's fatal collisions. Texting or talking on a cell phone can double the likelihood of an accident, and it’s illegal in Washington state. If you get a ticket for using a handheld wireless device, the fine starts at $136.
- Encourage your teen to exercise his or her rights as a passenger. Only 44 percent of teens say they would speak up if someone were driving in a way that scared them.
Adding a teen driver to your auto insurance policy is costly. Here are some tips to keep costs as low as you can:
- Stay accident- and ticket-free. Many companies grant discounts to drivers who don’t have infractions or accidents for three or more years.
- Keep those grades up. Many insurance companies offer discounts or preferred rates for teens who maintain good grades.
- Ask your insurance company about “accident forgiveness.” It’s a clause offered by some insurance companies that guarantees premiums will not increase after one minor accident.
- Review your policy. Consider raising your deductible and only allowing your teen to drive the family’s oldest, least expensive car. In Washington state, auto insurance premiums are linked to the type of vehicle you drive. SUVs, convertibles and sports cars typically cost more to insure.