Adding your teenager to your household’s list of drivers can come with mixed emotions. First, you might be wondering how your child became a teenager so quickly. Then, there’s the joy of realizing you have an extra driver in the house to run errands. Finally, you can’t help but worry about the safety of your inexperienced teen driver behind the wheel.
Here is some information to help you and your teen adjust to owning and driving his or her first car.
Parents’ Rules for New Drivers
Driving is a privilege. It is up to parents to determine what behaviors — besides those mandated by state and federal laws — can cause the loss of your teen’s driving privileges.
Seatbelts are mandatory.
Parents should limit their teen’s driving at night and during inclement weather until the teen has gained sufficient behind-the-wheel experience.
Earbuds are never to be worn while driving; they impair the sounds of sirens from approaching first responders.
Phones should be stowed away at all times.
Because the presence of teen passengers increases the risk of teen drivers crashing, parents should determine if and when their teen is experienced enough to drive with passengers in the car. Some state laws even require teens have a certain number of hours behind the wheel before passengers are allowed in a car that a teen is driving.
Teen Driver Statistics
Distracted driving, which is any activity that diverts the driver’s attention away from the primary task of driving, is responsible for more than 58% of teen crashes.
Texting while driving is connected to more than 1.6 million car collisions in the U.S. each year.
Speeding is the cause of 31% of all fatal collisions involving teenagers.
The fatal crash rate for teens is three times higher than it is for drivers 20 and older.
Cellphone users are five times more likely to get into a car collision than undistracted drivers.
Twenty percent of people killed by distracted drivers in 2018 weren’t even in the cars; they were pedestrians, bicyclists, or other bystanders.
The motor vehicle death rate for male teenagers is twice as high compared to female teen drivers.
Tips for Purchasing Your Teen’s First Car
Determine your budget. Be sure to include the costs of insurance, gas, maintenance, and state registration and inspection fees. A used car in good condition might be the most affordable option for your teen driver.
Research makes and models prioritize safety and reliability ahead of horsepower, speed, and style.
Ask a reputable mechanic to inspect the car and determine whether it has been in any collisions.
Research several sources for vehicles besides car dealerships, such as online auto auctions.
Taking Care of Your Teen’s Car
Enroll your teen driver in an auto emergency club in case he or she has car trouble while on the road.
Make your teen responsible for maintaining his or her vehicle. Have your teen put reminders for the car’s service schedule in his or her phone’s calendar.
It’s typically more affordable to add a teen driver to your auto insurance policy, rather than letting him or her buy separate coverage. However, you can certainly set up a repayment plan between you and your teen, so your teen learns the price of car insurance.
Inform your teen driver to never drive with his or her car’s gas tank getting close to empty.
Overall, parents can set good examples for their teen drivers by demonstrating safe driving and good car maintenance habits themselves.
A lot of responsibility comes with owning the first car. See the accompanying resource for more information.