Thursday, May 14, 2009

Help Your Teenage Driver Make Safe Choices

Neither a borrower nor a lender be. That's a quote from Shakespeare's Hamlet. Advice from a father, Polonius, to his teenage son. There are two reasons why this is good teenage driving advice.

First: Lending a car to another teen is potentially dangerous. There will be a teenage driver, which statistically means a poor driver; there will be other teenagers in the car; there will probably be elevated emotions as a result; there will probably be overconfidence about driving skill in general since teens usually lend and borrow cars after they've driven only a few months; and, by definition, the teen is not driving his or her "regular" car -- it's a borrowed car.

Second: An insurance policy typically insures the vehicle for bodily injury and property damage only if the registered owner is driving it, or if it's being driven with the permission of the registered owner. Teenagers seldom are the registered owners -- parents are. So when teens lend to teens, there might be no insurance. Zero. The parent has not given the friend permission to drive. This means that your own teenager, riding as a passenger in your car, may not have coverage, because a teenage friend is doing the driving. If your children appreciate this, they may choose not to lend the keys to their friends.

Passengers get hurt, too. At some point, your teenagers will be passengers in a car driven by another teenager. Passengers can get hurt, too, worse than drivers. So let's look at passenger safety. Here are some points to discuss with your young driver.
  • Don't ride with someone again if you didn't like their driving the first time.
  • Wear a seat belt, even if no one else wears theirs.
  • Let the driver concentrate. Don't encourage speed, loud music, horseplay, etc.
  • Avoid alcohol, even as a passenger. It increases rowdiness, noise, distractions.

These are difficult things for a teenager to do. They require going against the grain, doing what isn't fun, doing what isn't emotional. That takes a lot of leadership.

That means doing what you know, inside, is the right thing to do. The smart thing to do. The responsible thing to do. Your child might even be pleasantly surprised and find out that the other occupants of the car agree-- they wanted to settle down, too, but they were afraid to say so.

Thank you to PEMCO Insurance Company

Thursday, May 7, 2009

To Drive or Not To Drive!

To Drive or not to Drive!

And that really is the question! What age is the right age for a teenager to get their drivers license?

The age and requirements vary state-to-state and have varied laws concerning all aspects of when, where and how teens may drive.

We pose the question regarding readiness to the parents.
Even if the age to get a license in your state is 16, you must ask yourself is your teen mature enough and ready for the responsibility?

No parent wants to say no to their children but feelings and emotions involving things like peer pressure and the ability to impress their friends have no place behind the wheel of a car. Being that traffic deaths are the number 1 reason for high mortality rates in teenagers.

Let's face it, driving is all about responsibility. Are your kids good with following the rules, doing the chores, handling their emotional ups and downs sensibly? Only you know how your child will measure up to these questions.

Here are some ideas from another parent.

Many parents "basically cut their kids loose the minute they get their driver's license." That was not the case with the Cox family's oldest child, Rachel, who turned 16 in January and got her license in April. The decision to allow her to drive was tied to certain rules. Among them:

She's not allowed to use a cell phone while driving. Cox checks the itemized statement to ensure the rule is followed.

She's not permitted to have passengers (except for family) for at least a year. Cox sometimes bends this rule, depending on where her daughter is going and with whom.

Rachel must continue to drive with her parents on occasion, so they can observe. And she's required to enroll in a New Driver Car Control Clinic.

There was never any room for negotiation. Donna Cox has had the rules in mind since 1997, when she helped her best friend bury her 16-year-old son in Louisville. He had been driving just four days.

"His death notice and picture have hung on my kitchen cabinet for the last nine years," Cox says, "so it's a daily reminder."