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Teen drivers crash because of inexperience; PIANJ offers suggestions for teens and parents

Friday, April 29, 2016

 TRENTON, NJ – It's spring and many teen drivers are beginning to drive for the first time. According to the National Safety Council, half of all teens will be involved in a car crash before graduating from high school. The more you know, the more you can do to prevent these crashes. The Professional Insurance Agents of New Jersey want new drivers and their parents to know some best practices and be aware of the greater risk they face.


Car accidents are the leading cause of death for teens and their passengers in the U.S. In fact, The National Safety Council reports the most dangerous time of a teen's life is the first 12 months of having a driver's license.


Inexperienced teen drivers are three times more likely to be involved in an accident than adults and inexperience is the primary factor for accidents in which teen drivers are involved. Lack of scanning the road; going too fast for conditions; and being distracted by something or someone inside or outside the vehicle have been identified as the main cause of these accidents.


"There are things parents can do to keep teens safe during their first months behind the wheel," says Charles Caruso, CIC, CPIA, PIANJ president. "New drivers may not like restrictions, but these safety precautions could save their lives."


PIANJ suggests the following guidelines:

  • Enroll your child in driver's education. Even if driver's education is not required for a license, extending your child's time in driver's education classes will improve their knowledge and preparation for real-life driving situations. Many car insurance companies offer discounts for completion of driver education courses.
  • Supervise the first few months of driving. Ride along with your teen until you feel comfortable that he or she can handle adverse conditions such as traffic congestion, bad weather and other dangerous drivers.
  • Limit the number of passengers. New Jersey law allows no more than one passenger unless they are the drivers dependents. However, even a single passenger can be a distraction, especially if that passenger is another teen.
  • Model safe driving practices. Teens learn to drive from watching their parents. They see how you handle situations behind the wheel and they will likely apply your practices to their own driving.
  • Be safe. Abide by speed limits; avoid distractions; and remain calm when traffic or other drivers get under your skin.
  • Forbid cellphones. Cellphone distractions are a major cause of teen auto accidents. Forbid any cellphone use by your new driver while in the car.

Teens are more expensive to insure than older drivers because they're more likely to have car accidents. There are a few ways to reduce the auto insurance cost for teen drivers:

  • Ask for a good student discount. Most insurers offer discounts for students who maintain at least a 3.0 grade-point average.
  • Ask for a driver training discount. Most insurers offer discounts for youthful operators who take driver training.
  • Choose a safe car that's inexpensive to insure. Luxury cars, flashy sports cars, and large SUVs, for example, can be expensive to insure.
  • Check for safety equipment discounts. You can save money on your auto insurance policy if your car is equipped with passive restraints, anti-theft devices and anti-lock brakes.

"Call your professional, independent insurance agent to go over your options and decide on the best policy for your teen driver," said Caruso.


PIANJ is a trade association representing professional, independent insurance agencies, brokerages and their employees throughout the state.