When millennials became parents, they were ribbed about never sleeping again. Then came jokes about the terrible twos. Then warnings about raising teenagers.
Now it’s their turn to hear, “Wait until your kids start driving!”
Yes, that time has come. With the millennial age range of 22-37, some of you may be readying for your first teen driver, whether you had children at an early age or have a blended family.
We want to help you not fret about your 15-year-old champing at the bit to get behind the wheel with that learner’s permit. When you need to prepare for your new teen driver, there are some ways to lower your stress and save money.
We’ll also note the benefit of a new driver having car insurance under their parents rather than their own policy. And we’ll share other ways to help lower your cost of adding a teen to your car insurance.
Tips for Parents of New Driver
By the time your teen makes it to driving age, you’ve surely adopted many of the signs you’re a great parent. Several of these will come into play when you start supervising your teen’s driving practice.
Parents need to be up to the task since a learner’s permit requirement is that the new driver can’t drive without being supervised. Check your state’s requirements about who must supervise.
Some states, like North Carolina, require the supervising licensed driver to be a parent, grandparent, or guardian, or a responsible adult approved by the parent or guardian at all times. Other states, like South Carolina, require the supervision of a licensed driver 21 or older who must be a parent or guardian for driving between midnight and 6 a.m.
Here are four ways to get you and your new driver started on the right track.
1. Drive the Way You Want Your Teen To
You can actually help prepare your teen to be a responsible driver before and in between your driving sessions by being a good role model.
Follow the rules of the road, and don’t engage in distracted driving behaviors or impulsive driving. It will not only make your job easier as a parent-teacher, but it could also upgrade your driving skills.
2. Ease Your New Driver Into Their Role
Your teen driver may be impatient to “head out on the highway,” but for their safety — and your blood pressure — start the lessons on the short side and where they can do the least damage.
Take them to an empty parking lot to familiarize them with being behind the wheel and to practice the basics. Once they’re good to go, try an area with minimal traffic.
Also, spend a lot of time getting them comfortable with driving around the neighborhood. The highest percentage of accidents occur close to home, so help them avoid becoming part of that statistic.
Then you’ll both be much better prepared for the freeway, which can scare the most experienced of drivers.
3. Stay Calm and Focused
Make your driving sessions with your teen driver productive and positive. Refrain from using your cellphone as well as eating and drinking so you can give your new driver your undivided attention to address their concerns and track their progress.
Your teen is going to make driving mistakes and learn at their own pace. Be open and supportive instead of comparing their learning curve to yours or getting upset. You don’t want to get your teen flustered and cause a mishap.
4. Teach Your Teen More Than Driving
Another way to give yourself better peace of mind regarding your new driver is by helping them learn what to do when the vehicle breaks down. Teach them what to do with the car, give them the information on how to get help, review the details of your roadside assistance plan, and walk them through the steps to take in the event of an accident.
Features and Apps to Help Teen Drivers
Once your teen driver has their driver’s license, you’re no longer required to supervise their driving, so how do you keep them safe?
You can supplement the driver’s training you provided for them in two major ways.
Explore Vehicle Safety Features
If the vehicle your new driver will be using has the following features, you’re in luck. If you’re unsure, check your owner’s manual. And if you’re looking to make a brand-new or pre-owned car purchase for your teen driver, here are features that can help them while they gain driving experience.
Crash avoidance systems – Autonomous braking technology tracks the area ahead of your car to let you know there’s a road danger ahead. The system automatically forces the car to brake to help avoid the possibility of a wreck.
Drowsy driver detection – This monitoring system lets you know if you’re falling asleep or tired by employing sensory and audible alerts such as a light tap on the brakes, a chime, or a shoulder belt tug to notify you it’s time to pull over and regroup.
Lane departure warnings – If you start to go over the road marker without signaling, you’ll receive a physical alert or a warning tone. If you have an advanced system, it’ll impact steering or lightly apply the brakes to guide you back into your lane.
Voice controls and hands-free connectivity – Manage media devices without having to use your hands, thanks to Bluetooth connectivity integration. Some systems have voice-activated controls allowing you to activate and adjust your audio system, navigation system, and climate controls without having to take your eyes off the road for even a second.
Explore Apps for Your New Driver
If your teen is like most teens, they’ll be more inclined to do something if there’s an app for it. Thankfully there are plenty of apps utilizing cell phone-blocking technology, some of them even featuring parental controls, including:
- AT&T DriveMode
- Samsung’s In-Traffic Reply
- Sprint DriveFirst
- Verizon DrivingMode
There is no downside to doing what you can to keep your teen from distracted driving, and especially from using their cellphone since 38 states and the District of Columbia ban cellphone use for new drivers.
And according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), teens’ inexperience behind the wheel makes them more susceptible to distracted driving. They note dialing a phone number while driving increases a teen’s risk of crashing by six times, and texting while driving increases the risk by 23 times.
Car Insurance for Your Teen Driver
Next to handing your car keys over to your teen driver for their first solo stint, figuring out insurance details maybe your biggest stressor about the whole experience. Here are a few tips on how to do it as affordably as possible and when.
Teen Driver Insurance Cost
You’ve no doubt heard that the age range that pays the most for car insurance is teens and young adults since insurers consider these drivers a high risk due to their unproven record, lack of experience, their distracted driving behaviors, and that they’re statistically more likely to be involved in a car accident.
But you may not realize that drivers aged 16-25 pay around 80% more. To have their own policy, they would pay on average $691 per month, or $8,293 per year.
This is why adding your teen driver onto your car insurance policy as a named driver is a much better financial decision. Yes, your rate will increase substantially, but it won’t be near that $8,000-plus price tag. It will be more like $1,000-$2,000.
Teen Driver Insurance Discounts
Piggybacking on your policy, as well as completing driver education and driving safely, are the best ways for your teen driver to keep that insurance premium as low as possible. But that’s not all.
You can get a little financial relief if your teen has a B average or better in school. Most of the major insurers offer a good student discount. Savings can range from 7% all the way up to 35%.
When to Insure Your Teen Driver?
You should add a teen to your car insurance policy as soon as they receive their learner’s permit and before they actually start driving.
Fortunately, many insurance companies won’t charge until they become a licensed driver, but definitely check with your insurance agent about that.
We hope we’ve helped you deal with the daunting experience of having a new teen driver in the house, from both an emotional and a financial perspective. Helping your teen assert their independence in a positive way by driving responsibly is an effective way to deal with teen rebellion as well as make you a less-stressed parent.