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Safe Teen Driving

Car Responsibilities: How to Talk to Your Teen About Driving

Posted by Sue Scheff on February 27, 2018  /   Posted in Uncategorized

Driving is a major responsibility for anyone — although learning the proper mechanics is something teens in particular need to understand before getting on the road. Case in point: Six teens die every day from car crash injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Knowing this information, if you’re working with your teen to get their learner’s permit or driver’s license, it’s time to sit down and have “the talk” — that is, about car responsibilities.

Be a Good Role Model

It’s no secret young people tend to emulate the actions, beliefs and attitudes of their parents, which is why you should always set a good example to teach and reinforce good habits. As such, when you get in your car, make it a habit (if it isn’t already) to put away your smartphone, fasten your seat belt and check your mirrors before starting the vehicle.

Additionally, you’ll always want to use your turn signal, follow the speed limit and keep your emotions in check. Never drink and drive or get behind the wheel if you aren’t feeling like yourself, and be open to discussing the decisions you make behind the wheel. Even if it doesn’t seem like it, your teen is watching you and will want to model your actions and behaviors.

Set Limits

When your teen gets their driver’s license, it’s important to set some important rules of the road beyond the relevant driving laws in your state. By clearly defining your expectations upfront, you’ll reduce conflicts, costly mistakes and other problems. Moreover, you’ll feel more confident and have better peace of mind about your teen’s driving abilities.

Fortunately, some states require teens to have progressive driving licenses that set limits on when they can drive and how many passengers are allowed in their vehicle at any one time. But even if your state doesn’t employ any restrictions for teen drivers, you should have open, honest discussions with your loved one about these important topics.

If you feel it necessary, draw up a safe driving contract with your teen to lay out any limits and responsibilities. For example, you may want to mention that they can only drive if they keep their grades up and stay out of trouble. Additionally, discuss any repercussions for distracted driving, including the use of their smartphone and ability to hang out with friends.

Continue the Discussion

Safe driving goes beyond explaining any important rules of the road. In fact, these conversations should be ongoing to ensure your teen maintains good driving habits and understands their responsibilities behind the wheel. While they should know the rules of the road, they also need to understand how to take care of their vehicle and when to take it in for maintenance.

For instance, if their tires are under inflated or don’t have enough tread, they could pop or slide on the road, creating a chain of events that could result in an accident. With that in mind, teach your teen how to check for symptoms of over-inflated tires and signs tires may need to be replaced, ensuring any new tires have an appropriate ply rating that measures strength and capacity.

As a parent, you also should discuss responsible driving behaviors and what to do in the case of an accident. While your teen may be reluctant to have these conversations, reinforce these conversations again and again. Because if they aren’t mature enough to talk about it, then they aren’t mature enough to get behind the wheel.

When All Else Fails, Reinforce the Rules Again and Again

Despite your best efforts and intentions, the information you share with your loved one may go in one ear and right out the other; after all, teens will be teens. Still, know that your teen is bound to make mistakes and/or circumvent your advice and rules while behind the wheel.

In these instances, it’s important to reinforce the rules you previously taught them or go back to the drawing board to implement new strategies. In the end, driving can be an inherently dangerous activity, which is why you need to do everything in your power to keep your teen — and everyone else on the road — safe.

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Protecting Your Teen Driving With Auto Insurance

Posted by Sue Scheff on July 07, 2017  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Teen Help

Have you been living in dread of your teenager’s sixteenth birthday? It’s a much-anticipated or much-feared day, depending on whether you’re the teenager or the parent. Many teens await their sixteenth birthdays with anticipation, looking forward to hitting the road. That driver’s license is a rite of passage. But when your teen driver gets that license, there’s something else they’re going to need (well, apart from a car). And that’s insurance.

You might have heard that insurance rates are often higher for teens. That’s because teens often like to toe the line of risky behavior and they have little experience driving, which makes insurance even more important. We’ll tell you what you need to know about insuring a teen driver so that you can get them the coverage they need – without breaking the bank.

When you’re insuring your teen driver, keep these things in mind:

  1. Add your teenager to your auto policy.

Instead of taking out a brand new policy for your teen, add them to yours. This will help keep the rates under control, especially if you have a good driving record and drive a safe, reliable car. You’ll also want to make sure to note which car the teen will be driving – the vehicle does have an impact on the insurance rates. As you can imagine, a safe, solid minivan will cost less to insure than a sports car.

  1. Up your deductible.

If you’re able to, you can raise your deductible, which is the amount you pay out of pocket before your insurance will step in to cover the rest. This will, in turn, lower your premium. Think about how much money you can access as a deductible and choose an amount that’s right for you.

  1. Quest for discounts.

Does your kiddo have good grades? If you’re the proud parent of a student with a good GPA, your insurance company will likely reward you with a discount. “Good students” are seen as being less of a risk. See, hitting the books and studying hard comes in handy sometimes!

If you have a slightly older teen driver who’s headed off to college, you might be able to get a discount if they’re going to school more than 100 miles away and they’re not bringing a vehicle with them. They won’t have so much time behind the wheel, and that’s where the discount kicks in.

These are just a couple possible discounts. Be sure to ask your agent about any others you might qualify for.

  1. Choose the vehicle carefully.

The car that your teen drives has an impact on their insurance rates, which we mentioned above. It might be better to go with a safe, reliable used car than to get them a new, shiny car. Yes, they might beg and beg for a new car that’s all fancy and such, but a nice, semi-indestructible used car might be better for your wallet in more ways than one. If you already have a safe car that you feel comfortable with your teen driving, all the better! Do it. The car should ideally be more than five years old and have four doors. Whatever car you end up getting for your teen to drive, make sure that it’s in good shape.

Other practical information: Only name one car for your teen to drive and don’t let them drive any other vehicles. The rule should be that they can only drive the car that they’re insured for. Keep the car in your name rather than switching it over to that of your teen driver.

  1. Send them to driving school.

You might meet with some very loud and stubborn resistance, but it’s a good idea to send your teen to driving school. Preferably one that’s approved by your insurance company – check with your agent to see if they have any suggestions. By having your young charge complete a course in driver’s ed you might get a discount on their rates.

  1. Pay for minor damages yourself.

“I swear, Mom and Dad, I didn’t see the mailbox there…It’s just a scratch, really…”

If there’s a minor snafu with the car, take care of the repair yourself rather than claiming it on your insurance. Any claim can make your rates go up, plus there’s your deductible to consider. If it’s something you can handle on your own, do.

Of course, we hope that you’ll never have to pay for damages of any kind, but just in case something happens…

  1. Consider a PLUP.

A what? A Personal Liability Umbrella Policy. Since that’s a bit of a mouthful, we’ll just call it a PLUP.

A PLUP provides an extra layer of coverage over top of the insurance that you already have. Your auto policy has a certain limit on it, but if an accident causes damages that exceed that limit, you’re left on your own to cover the rest. That’s where the PLUP comes in. The PLUP will step in where the auto policy stopped, covering the damages up to its limit.

Insuring your teen driver is something that you know you have to do. You might not look forward to paying the higher premium for your auto insurance, but you’ll be able to breathe easier knowing that your teen has coverage.

If you want to talk more about insuring your teen, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. If you’d like to get a free quote for your auto insurance, fill out our quote form and you’ll be on your way!

Contributor: Katherine Betts

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100 Deadliest Days on the Road

Posted by Sue Scheff on May 26, 2017  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Teen Help

AT&T stresses IT CAN WAIT message

Memorial Day marks the start of the 100 deadliest days , when the average number of teens dying from car crashes is 16 percent higher than the rest of the year, according to AAA. That’s because teens are on the road more during the summer months. During this time of year, more parents are also on the road while taking their kids to swim lessons, baseball, softball, summer camp, and more.

AT&T is using the Memorial Day Weekend as an opportunity to remind young drivers, and their parents, to never let their smartphones distract them behind the wheel. And a good first step is to take the pledge at www.itcanwait.com to keep your eyes on the road, not on your phone and encourage your family, friends and neighbors to do the same. AT&T launched the It Can Wait campaign in 2010 to help put an end to texting and driving. Since that time, AT&T research has revealed smartphone distracted driving has grown beyond texting to video chatting, emailing, web surfing, photo snapping, posting to social media, and more.

In addition to taking the IT CAN WAIT pledge, AT&T encourages drivers to use a free app, like AT&T DriveMode, to help curb the temptation to engage in texting while driving. This is especially important for teen drivers, since texting is their primary mode of communication. The DriveMode app silences incoming text messages and sends an auto-reply to the sender letting the person know you’re driving. The app’s auto-mode feature automatically turns on the app when you reach 15 MPH and turns it off after you stop. And parents will receive a notification if their teen driver turns off the app. The AT&T DriveMode app is available to customers of all wireless carriers for iPhone and Android users.

AT&T has also added a virtual reality experience component to the IT CAN WAIT campaign to show the potentially deadly consequences of glancing at your smartphone while driving. You can download the free AT&T VR app and buy Google Cardboard at www.ItCanWait.com/VR to use with your smartphone to experience the IT CAN WAIT driving simulation.

Lastly, AT&T encourages you to get involved with the IT CAN WAIT movement and educate others in your community and workplace about the dangers of smartphone distracted driving. You could just save a life.

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How to Prepare Your Teen for Bad Weather Driving Conditions

Posted by Sue Scheff on January 18, 2017  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Teen Help

Winter weather can make driving dangerous for even the most experienced drivers, so it’s no wonder, as a parent, you’re concerned about putting your teenager behind the wheel in less than ideal conditions. And there’s good reason for concern: Bad weather plays a role in 22 percent of total car crashes and at least 15 percent of crash fatalities. Safe winter driving is possible with preparation and practice.

If your teen has no experience navigating wintery roads, keep them off the road until you can give them some practice in a controlled environment, like an empty parking. Practice will help them get a feel for the car’s steering, gripping and braking on slick pavement so they will better understand how to adjust when they’re on the open road. In addition to hands-on driving experience, here are five ways to prepare your teen for winter driving.

1. Keep a Cold Weather Emergency Kit in the Car

Help your teen create an emergency kit that they can keep in the car. Items might include blankets, flashlight, flare, jumper cables, snacks and water, a small shovel, portable phone charger and hand warmers. Additionally, make sure they have the number to a roadside assistance service programmed into their phone.

2. Remove All Snow from the Car Before Driving

Teens in a hurry might be inclined to just scrape snow off the windows and get on the road. But that’s not guaranteed to safeguard them from visibility. Instead, encourage your teen to remove all snow on their vehicle’s exterior before driving. Headlights and taillights also need to be visible to other drivers and can play a crucial role when conditions take a turn for the worse. Furthermore, left behind snow on the hood and roof can fly off and hinder visibility for your teen and other drivers. Finally, have them check that the exhaust pipe is clear of snow to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

3. Perform a Thorough Maintenance Check

Routine maintenance becomes more important in poor weather. Have your teen check their fluids before driving, ensuring, in particular, that their windshield wiper fluid is topped off. Likewise, make sure the vehicle’s tires are properly inflated and in good condition. If the tread looks worn, consider replacing the tires altogether. Low tread or bald tires are especially dangerous on slick roads.

4. Ensure the Gas Tank is at least Half Full

Most teens will let their gas tanks run until they are completely empty, but stress the importance of a full tank when winter weather conditions are bad. That’s because there’s always the possibility of being caught in stopped traffic, or worse, getting stranded during bad weather. With that in mind, instruct your teen to always keep their gas tank above half in the winter.

5. Review Other Important Winter Driving Tips

  • Increase your following distance: When on the road, especially in icy conditions and during inclement weather, remind your teen to give cars in front of them more than enough space to allow for extra braking distance and skidding.
  • Decrease speed: Driving at slower-than-normal speeds may be necessary, because stopping, accelerating and turning all take longer in the snow. Also, keep in mind that other traffic will be moving slower than usual.
  • Watch for stopped vehicles: Be on the lookout for stranded cars, slow-moving snow plows and emergency vehicles.
  • Watch for ice on bridges: Bridges, shaded areas and overpasses will freeze before other parts of the road. Thus, these areas are more prone for accidents, so make sure to travel slowly through these areas.
  • Avoid using cruise control: It should be commonsense, but steer clear of using cruise control when the roads are wet to prevent sliding.
  • Keep your headlights on: Always keep your headlights on, even during the daytime, so other drivers can see you.

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Teen-Involved Crash Deaths Spike 10 Percent

Posted by Sue Scheff on October 12, 2016  /   Posted in Parenting Teens

teendriverstatWhile the rate of teen driver-involved crashes has declined significantly over the last decade, there is still significant work to be done. A fresh look at 10 years of data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) shows the improvements in teen-involved fatal crash rates have not been as dramatic for older teens (ages 18-20) as compared to their younger counterparts (ages 15-17), and teen drivers are still 1.6 times more likely to be involved in a crash than adults. The report examines the differences in fatal crashes between older and younger teens, as well as by gender, and provides a set of 11 policy and best practice recommendations for states to implement.

What is the problem?

  • The analysis finds that teen drivers are still 1.6 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than their adult counterparts.
  • New data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show teen-involved fatal crashes spiked 10 percent in 2015, the first uptick since 2006.
  • According to GHSA’s new analysis, fatal crash rates for 18- to 20-year-old drivers have shown considerably less improvement over the past 10 years than for 15- to 17-year-old drivers.
  • Older teen drivers are involved in more fatal crashes than younger teens.
  • It is estimated that one in three teens is not licensed by age 18, which means that they do not benefit from graduated driver licensing (GDL) programs, which are proven to reduce crash risk by as much as 30 percent.

The report was funded through a grant from the Ford Motor Company Fund. The data analysis was conducted by Richard Retting of Sam Schwartz Transportation Consultants, and the report was researched and written by national teen driving expert Pam Fischer.

Read the full press release here.

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5 Common Driving Myths Young Motorists Swear are True

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 22, 2016  /   Posted in Parenting Teens

TeenDriver555If you want to know anything about driving, ask a new teen driver. While their overall enthusiasm and eagerness to get behind the wheel is heartfelt and genuine, many teens seem to possess a great deal of driving knowledge that’s not always accurate. With that in mind, check out the following commonly held beliefs about driving — and why they’re fiction instead of fact.

Keeping Your Wheels Shiny and Clean

A commonly held opinion among young drivers, notes Cars.com, is the importance of keeping the dashboard and wheels as shiny and clean as possible. The theory behind this myth is that using a protectant compound will protect the wheels and dashboard, keeping them in better shape for a longer period of time. Unfortunately, when it comes to the shiny dash, it can actually be unsafe; a slippery dash with a mirror-like finish will give off a major glare, which can reflect on the windshield and make it hard to see.

And while shiny, clean tires look nice, the best way to take care of them is through proper, regular maintenance. When it comes time to replace two or four tires, be sure to purchase new, name-brand tires from a reputable company, and always put the newer tires on the rear versus the front. This is true of front-, rear- or all-wheel-drive vehicles.

Red Cars Get the Most Speeding Tickets

Another commonly held belief by teen drivers, notes DriveTeam, is that owning a red car means you’re more likely to incur a speeding ticket. The theory behind this myth is that “arrest me red” vehicles more readily catch the eye of traffic cops.

In actuality, red cars are no more likely to get pulled over than any other colored vehicles. This may come as bad news to teens in black, blue or silver cars, but the best way to avoid getting pulled over is to obey the posted speed limit and be a safe, courteous driver.

Keep Your Hands at ’10 and 2′

Many parents of teen drivers were taught to pretend the steering wheel was like a big clock and to keep their hands at the “10 and 2” position. As Defensive Driving notes, this advice was more appropriate back in the day when fewer cars had airbags.

Now that most vehicles employ this important safety equipment, the “10 and 2” advice can be admonished, as the practice often leads to broken arms and other injuries during an accident. Teens who believe this myth most likely learned it from their folks, so gently advise them that current best practices call for keeping your hands at the “9 and 3” position.

Only Speeders Get in Accidents

Ah, if this was only the case. If it were true, our insurance rates would drop significantly, and we would all chug along at the speed limit, completely confident that we would never get in a wreck. Sadly, this myth is not true. Remind teens who are cavalier about speeding that driver error is the main cause of crashes — even when they’re traveling at 5 mph in a parking lot.

While it’s commendable teens are aware of the dangers of driving too fast, teach them that they must be vigilant at all times. This means paying close attention to their actions behind the wheel, as well as what other drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists are doing.

All New Drivers Get in Accidents

Hearing a new teen driver announce this myth will make any parent’s blood run cold. It’s almost as if they are daring the universe to make this untrue statement become reality. In actuality, there are plenty of young drivers who make it through their teen years without a single door ding, let alone a fender bender.

On the flip side, adult drivers who have perfect records could suddenly get rear ended in an intersection. Age is not the key here — other drivers’ bad actions and inattentiveness are much more likely to cause an accident.

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How to Keep Teen Drivers Safe

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 03, 2016  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Teen Help

TeenDriver55If you’re a parent with children old enough to drive, you’ve probably worried about their safety behind the wheel more than once. The fact that many teens are now using their smartphones while driving doesn’t help the situation, either.

And the scary truth is that drivers who text while operating a vehicle are 23 times more likely to become involved in a car accident. While this statistic may be unnerving to you as a parent, you have the power to influence how your teen drives. Lead by example as a safe driver, while also being vocal about your expectations of your children as they drive.

Unless you speak up, your child will be more prone to bad driving habits that can lead to an otherwise preventable accident.

Face the Cold, Hard Facts

According to driving-tests.org, motor vehicle crashes are the No. 1 cause of death amongst teens. This means every time your teen gets in a car, they are at risk of becoming involved in an accident, caused either by themselves or by other teen drivers. If your teen didn’t know this simple fact already, share it with them to raise awareness of the general dangers they face on the road.

Remind them the months of July, August and September are among the most dangerous months to drive. Even just being aware of the potential dangers of driving can do much to prevent accidents. As your teens learn more about the risks of driving, they will feel a greater sense of responsibility as well.

No Do-Overs: Speak Up Now

On average, more than 75 percent of teen driver-related crashes are due to “critical errors,” including driving at unsafe speeds, distracted driving and lack of scanning. Teens are more susceptible to drive at high speeds and text. As a result, they are often unaware of important traffic signs and signals. These are among the reasons why more than 35 percent of the leading causes of death for 15- to 20-year-olds in the U.S. are car-related.

As a parent, it’s your duty to teach your teen about how they can be safer drivers. Encourage them to pay close attention to their mirrors and blind spots as they drive, put their phones on silent, and arrive home at a reasonable time. If they complain about having a curfew, remind them of the sobering fact that more than 40 percent of teen auto deaths occur between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Even beyond just the scope of driving, you will be teaching them a valuable life lesson: their actions not only affect themselves, but those around them.

Don’t be timid in openly communicating with your teen the expectations you have for them when they are behind the wheel. Have an honest and open conversation with them without the tone of lecturing and nagging. Express their safety is your highest priority and that they should have the same perspective when driving.

As you continually remind your children to be careful while driving, it will dawn on their minds that driving is not just a matter of fun, but also a matter of responsibility. While they may not become model drivers overnight, with consistent reminders from you and time to mature, your children will become safer, more responsible drivers on the streets.

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Teen Driving Laws and Statistics You Need to Know

Posted by Sue Scheff on November 03, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

TeenDriving4There is nothing more indicative of growing up and blossoming into an adult like picturing your teenager at the wheel. You may be reeling from the bouts of anxiety you feel from knowing that your baby is no longer safely strapped away in her car seat, but rather behind the wheel. However alarming this may be, you can help prepare yourself for this inevitable transition from child to adulthood with some light preparation.

Become Aware of the Law

Knowing you have a teenager also means that your lovely, perfect angel is also probably experimenting, making risky choices and facing peer pressure at every turn. As reported by teendriversource.org, the fatal crash rate for drivers ages 16 to 19, based on miles driven, is four times higher than for drivers ages 25 to 69. As terrifying as this may be, you can prepare by becoming aware of driving laws in your state and getting your teen involved in learning the stats specific to your state. If you live in Florida, for example, you can visit driving-tests.org to learn all of the rules that matter and are tested in this state.

Prepare for the Worst

Knowing the law is the first step in helping your teen become a safe driver. The next step is recognizing that accidents do happen and that knowing how to handle such a situation is useful in making the best out of a bad situation. You can help your teen prepare by enrolling him in courses that can help him become more savvy about how to handle tough situations. Both Driver’s Ed and Defensive Driving are excellent courses that can help your teen become a safer driver. With a little research, you can find out what the age requirements are in your state. In Washington, you can attend a Driver’s Ed course as early as 15 years old, and in Montana you can be 14 when you enroll, proving that laws vary from state to state but what remains the same is the benefit of early education.

Practice Makes Perfect

If Driver’s Ed doesn’t cut it for you in terms of preparation, you can also choose to check out other programs designed to cover what it may not. One such program, Driver’s Edge, employs professionals to specifically target the unusually high number of teen accidents. While the founding office is based out of Las Vegas, this program travels across the country and educates parents and teens alike. You can check out their offerings at driversedge.org.

Be Understanding

Teenagers are looking to make their mark in the world and rules and regulations often appear as impositions on their independence. So don’t be surprised when from time to time, they do act out and in ways that make you cringe. You can, however, make clear that the car is not the place to challenge authority by sharing stories of other teens who made choices that resulted in fatal errors. According to health.harvard.edu, preventing driving accidents with teens can be as simple as setting the right limitations. So, instead of being concerned with where your teen is driving, consider how he is driving. By stressing the behaviors that good drivers exhibit, you can help your teen start to model these behaviors.

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