COLUMBUS – The research speaks volumes: parents who set rules with their driving teens cut accident risk in half. During National Teen Driving Safety Week, Oct. 20-26, Ohio Lieutenant Governor and Insurance Director Mary Taylor is urging Ohioans to begin having regular conversations with their teen driver to establish clear rules and expectations with safety as the centerpiece.
“Getting behind the wheel is a new and challenging experience for teen drivers and obeying traffic laws and rules established by parents cannot be overemphasized,” Taylor said. “We encourage parents and family members to discuss issues such as speeding and distracted driving with their teen driver.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car accidents are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens and mile for mile they are involved in three times as many fatal crashes as all other drivers. Research shows inexperience and immaturity combined with speed, not wearing seat belts, distracted driving (such as cell phone use, loud music, and too many passengers), drowsy and night-time driving, and alcohol use aggravate this problem.
Parents should also set aside time with an agent to ensure the family has adequate insurance protection. Most insurance companies consider unmarried drivers under the age of 25 a higher-risk, which can translate into higher auto insurance premiums.
To assist parents, Taylor offers tips to help protect their driving teens and get the best value for their auto insurance dollar:
Lay the Ground Rules: Establish driving rules for safe driving, such as not speeding, seat belt usage, maximum number of passengers, no mobile phone texting, (now illegal for teens in Ohio as is talking on the phone for those 17 and under), and the amount and time of day driving is permitted. Consider these items as part of your teen driver contract. You can create one online at www.insureuonline.org/teen_driver_certificate.htm. Review Ohio’s distracted driving law at www.bmv.ohio.gov/texting_ban.stm.
Shop Around: Ohio has a competitive personal auto insurance market, however, no two insurance companies charge the same rates. Compare costs and coverages between insurers since having a teen driver in the household does affect the family’s auto insurance premium. Consider discounts that various insurance companies offer, such as good student discounts. In addition, most insurers offer discounts for having more than one car on a policy or having both your auto and homeowners insurance with the same company.
Purchasing a Vehicle for your Teen Driver: The difference in the cost of auto insurance for a teen driving a newer, more expensive sports car versus a modestly priced economy car with liability coverage can be significant. If shopping for an additional vehicle for your teen to drive, the cost of insurance should be part of the conversation. Make sure you discuss options with your insurance agent. They can provide quotes on the cost of insurance for the various vehicles you may be considering to purchase.
Consider Revising Deductibles, Coverage: Whether purchasing an additional car or sharing the family car with your teen driver, you can reduce your auto insurance premium costs by raising the deductibles on physical damage (collision and comprehensive) coverages. Determine if you can afford to absorb a larger portion of your loss in the event of an accident. Also, consider eliminating physical damage coverages on older vehicles — unless a lienholder, such as a bank, requires the coverage to be maintained.
Ohioans with insurance questions can call the Department’s consumer hotline at 1-800-686-1526. The Department’s auto insurance consumer guide and young drivers guide to auto insurance at www.insurance.ohio.gov are helpful resources. You can follow the Ohio Department of Insurance on twitter @OHInsurance and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/OhioDepartmentofInsurance.