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Teen on the Road? What Parents Need to Know

You know the statistics-hundreds of thousands of teens are treated in the emergency room each year for car accident-related injuries. You want your teen to be safe while he or she learns to drive.

We know that preparing your child to hit the road can be quite nerve-racking, but we have everything you need to know to prepare your teen for a safe driving experience. Check out our tips about teenage car insurance and crucial driving conversations, along with our post-accident checklist below.

Insurance for Teenage Drivers

Another driver in the family brings with it some financial consequences-and an increased car insurance premium is one of them. Insurance companies understand that teens, who only make up 14% of America's population, cause 30% of car accidents.

Premiums drop around age 25 if the driver has a good record, which is one great motivator for many teens to drive carefully and responsibly. Discuss the financial realities of poor driving with your child.

Your child may get additional benefits from the insurance company if he or she gets good grades, enrolls in a driver's education course, and drives a safe, reliable car. Encourage your teenager to learn about car insurance and become responsible for his or her insurance coverage.

Crucial Conversations for You and Your Teen

Some parents may find it difficult to talk to their teenager about challenging topics. But if your teen is beginning to drive, you need to have certain crucial conversations, regardless of how difficult it may be to have them. These discussion topics will do more than set clear expectations-they could save your child's life.

Alcohol and driving. In America, 28 people die each day in drunk driving-related crashes. Your teen needs to understand the devastating risks and results of drunk and buzzed driving. Explain your expectations regarding alcohol and driving to your child, and remember to address issues like designated drivers and peer pressure.

Driving with other passengers. The risk of an accident rises dramatically when newlylicensed drivers have other teens in the car. Some parents ask their teens not to drive with friends in the car for the first six months they have their license; others say no friends in the car, period. Set your standard, and make sure your child understands it. Discuss the dangers of listening to music too loudly, driving too fast, or using a cell phone (even for GPS features) while driving-all things that occur more frequently when teens drive together.

Consequences of irresponsible driving. Your teenager may feel motivated to drive more safely if he or she understands the consequences of poor driving. Discuss more than just the law: talk about your own rules. You may decide that your teen should be financially responsible for an accident that could have been prevented, or that your teen will lose driving privileges if he or she drives and texts. Communicate your expectations clearly.

Accident Checklist for Teens

As you and your teen discuss these important issues, recognize that your child also needs to understand what to do in case of an emergency. Discuss this checklist to make sure your teen can respond safely and appropriately after an accident, and put it in the glove box of your teen's car so he or she can access it quickly.

  1. Check for injuries. Are you alright? Is everyone else in your car alright? Move all of your limbs, wiggle your fingers and toes, and slowly move your head around. If you are injured, try not to move. Call 911 and wait for medical assistance.

  2. Move the car to safety. If you are uninjured and can move the car, pull off to the shoulder of the road or to another safe location. Do not drive away-hit-and-runs are vigorously prosecuted, and legal consequences could be severe.

  3. Contact the other driver and call authorities. Check to make sure the driver and passengers in the other vehicle are uninjured. Call 911 and ask for emergency medical aid if needed; if not, call 911 anyway, explain that it is not an emergency, and give the police the address of the accident. The police can help you fill out a form that can help your legal case. They can also help you safely resolve conflicts with the other driver.

  4. Call Mom or Dad. Your parents will want to know if you are safe. They can contact an attorney if needed and help you resolve insurance issues.

  5. Do not settle with the other driver on your own. The other driver may be frustrated or try to take advantage of your young age. Insist upon waiting for the authorities to arrive. Give the other driver your name, phone number, and insurance information, but do not give him or her your address or other personal information.

An accident is a scary thing, and your teen will be a lot less likely to do something inconvenient or dangerous after an accident if he or she knows what to do.

As you prepare your child to drive, remember that your example, clear communication, and love make a difference. Seek help from teachers, other parents, and your attorney for more ways to prepare your teen to drive safely and successfully.

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