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It seems like a “right of passage” from childhood into becoming an adult. Your little boy or girl turns 17 and MUST have a car because everyone in school has one. Teens crave the freedom away from Mom and Dad, acceptance by their peers and the ability to show off (with the right car of course!).  Your kids' status may be linked to the type of phone or tablet they possess, but a car will always be huge! 

Teen Driving Statistics

Car crashes are the leading cause of teen deaths in the United States. An average of 6,000 teens die and another 300,000 are injured annually across the nation. Teens crash for many reasons, but the most common are overconfidence, speeding, impaired driving, distraction and inexperience. In addition, seat belt use among teens is the lowest of any age group on the road.

In the United States, teens (17 to 20 years of age) are involved in 15% of crashes, but in California they are involved in a shocking 22% of crashes! Recent statistics from the California Transportation Institute show that motor vehicle crashes are now the #1 killer of teens in America, and while crashes account for only 2% of all deaths nationwide, they account for a surprising 70% of teen injury deaths. Speed, distraction, fatigue and inexperience, coupled with a lack of seat belt use, are all prevalent factors in these fatal crashes.

Driver Education

California is one of many states that have enacted Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws.

Graduated driver licensing is designed to introduce teenage drivers to driving in stages, over an extended period of time, in an environment that minimizes risk. A teen typically progresses through a permit phase, where he or she practices with supervision, to a provisional or probationary phase, which allows for independent driving with restrictions. Following successful completion of this phase, a teen is granted full driving privileges. The key here to educating the young driver is practice. As parents or guardians of the new teen driver, we should spend as much time as possible helping the newly licensed driver to practice their new skills behind the wheel.

Drivers holding a GDL license have the following restrictions placed upon them:

  • May not drive between midnight and 5:00am
  • May not have more than one passenger in the car who is under 21 and not an immediate family member
  • May not use a cell phone (including hands free), or any other hand held electronic device
  • Driver and ALL passengers must wear seat belts

Once the new driver has completed at least 6 months of driving, and is at least 16 years old, they can apply and receive a standard California driver’s license with no restrictions.

California Fraud Laws and Auto Insurance

Insurance statistics show that since the youthful driver is significantly more likely to have an accident than a typical adult driver, so there will be a higher premium charged when the youthful driver is added to the parents policy.

There is a temptation then to “forget” to add the new driver to the auto policy or not list the new driver on your renewal questionnaire in order to save money even though the child is driving Mom or Dad’s car. We caution you against this practice. The State of California has certain fraud laws in this area that will allow an insurance company to deny a claim in the event the driver is an undisclosed household operator. In addition, the Attorney General has the ability to fine the policy holder in the range of thousands of dollars.

Insurance-Friendly Cars For Teens

The decision is made. You want to buy your son or daughter their first car. It will be in your name and properly added to your policy. But what to buy? You know it's not only the car model you have to consider. You also have to think about the impact the car will have on your auto insurance.

Insurance companies surcharge youthful operators in three areas:

  • Liability
  • Comprehensive (theft)
  • Collision (damage caused to the vehicle in an accident)
And, because we represent many different companies, your Huggins Dreckman Insurance agent can help you make the right decision when buying that first car for your teenager.

Teen Discounts

There are lots of ways to work down your rates (multi-car discounts, etc) but for Teens, the best discounts are the Drivers' Training Discounts and Good Student discounts. While California requires teens to take drivers' education, not all states do.  Whether or not your state does, the savings from the driver's education and training discounts can off-set a lot of the cost of the classes and make your child a safer driver.  That's a bonus for you, your child, and the other drivers on the road.

The biggest discount is if your child maintains a B average or better in school.  In fact, we recommend that you require your children to maintain a B average in order to get a license before the child is 18 years old (when you can't do anything about it anyway). The discount on B or better GPAs (grade point averages) is huge. 

Kids want to drive;you want them to be educated and safe. Use the B or better GPA and drivers' training to your advantage!