The Risks and Solutions... for Families with Teen Drivers

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1 The Risks and Solutions... for Families with Teen Drivers When we bring our babies home from the hospital, we are very concerned about their survival. They are precious to us. We become super- sensitive to their crying. We put an intercom in their room. We make sure that their car seat is belted into the car correctly. We do everything we can to make sure they are safe! As they become toddlers, we are still concerned. We know there is still great danger if they get into dangerous places and situations, or get hold of the wrong stuff. They just don t know, so we watch over them. We do everything possible to make sure they are safe! When they reach the driving age, there is a whole new level of danger. Every parent is concerned about their kid becoming a driver. Rightly so! More teens are killed and injured in car crashes than the total of the other unintentional causes. More than 7,000 kids are killed in car crashes every year. More than 300,000 kids are seriously injured. Every parent needs to understand the data on teen drivers to know what the risk really is. What are the real odds of your child being killed or injured? Your new teen driver is obviously at high risk. * 80% of teens will be involved in a crash in the first two years of driving. Many parents seem to know this and think the solution is to put their kid in a clunker. An inexpensive car with few safety systems and no survival systems. Not a good solution! Also, these kids are ten times more likely to have another crash. * Other members of the family are at risk especially siblings riding with an inexperienced driver. The greatest danger to siblings is riding with a new driver. * The family s financial assets are at risk. You are signing for financial responsibility. The family s financial responsibility does not stop because the insurance stops. * Your child is at high risk while riding with other teens. More than 40% of teen fatalities are killed by their friends. In addition to the serious injuries. * The cost of your auto insurance is getting ready to go up probably 200% to 300%. Talk with your insurance agent. There are things you can do to manage your premiums. Studies have shown that the biggest danger of all may be to under perceive a risk. If we under perceive a risk, we have a tendency to do nothing to reduce the risk. If we know the risks, we can do something about it. There are several things you can do to reduce the risks.

2 Let s look at some of the actual data, and what we believe to be the most important and effective solutions to decrease the risks. These primary points will help you understand the dangers, and we can help you make some better decisions! For a full report of Risks and Solutions from The Driving Skills Institute, click here. * * * * * * * 1. More than 7,000 kids are killed. That s right! An average of more than 7,000 teens will be killed in car crashes each year in this country. Is your child going to become a new teen driver this year? What are their odds? Did you know that eight out of ten teens (80%) will be involved in a crash during their first two years of driving? A national study by a major insurance company says that those involved in a crash are ten times more likely to be involved in another crash. We recently did special work with a 21 year old young woman who had been involved in seven crashes since licensing. Four of the seven were at fault, and yet she continued to drive. Fortunately she had not been seriously injured. What would you do to save your kid s life? Every parent we ask says I would do anything anything. Extensive preparation is the most effective way to increase their odds of survival. 2. More than 300,000 kids are seriously injured. More than 300,000 teens will be seriously injured in car crashes this year in this country. More than 800 kids a day. You usually don t hear about that number. Do you know why? Because those kids are not a statistic. They didn t die. But in many cases the affects of those injuries will last forever. Take a moment and think about how many kids are injured. Brain injuries, paraplegics, quadriplegics, serious injuries to arms and legs and hips and necks. Ask a parent who has been through this process what it was like. 3. Risk to other members of your family. Very often, your teen will be driving other members of your family, including siblings. A new and inexperienced driver is often acting as a family chauffeur. It s more convenient. Sometimes parents just don t think about the risk to siblings. However, your other children are obviously at increased risk. We strongly recommend that families wait until they are absolutely confident their teen has the maturity, experience and driving skills before risking other siblings.

3 4. Greatest financial risk to your family. The risk is not just to your children. When your teen begins to drive, the family is faced with the greatest financial risk. As you should know, you must sign for financial responsibility in order for your teen to get a permit or license. You are not signing just to give your permission. You are putting everything your family has worked for into the hands of a new teen driver. Your home, cars, savings, college funds, retirement funds. Everything you own is now at risk. Some parents believe that the auto liability insurance they have will cover the risk. Every family needs to understand that your financial responsibility does not stop, when the insurance stops. 5. You are responsible for their actions! If your kid is drinking and driving, or texting while driving, or speeding, or driving recklessly, or driving with other kids who by law should not be in your car, you are responsible for their actions. Your family can lose everything in a split second, because of a bad decision. You may or may not have insurance coverage in some of these situations, if a crash leads to criminal charges. Your child may now become unintentionally involved in a criminal process and the consequences. Even though they did not intend to hurt anyone. It is not unusual for a teen driver to be criminally charged following a death or serious injury. Especially if they were doing something that was in violation of a law! 6. Average Liability Awards. Every family should become familiar with the average liability awards from car crashes today. For a crash involving a teen driver in which there were injuries the average award in 2005 was more than $406,000. If a fatality was involved, the average award was over $3 million. For more detail on this data, and how you can protect your family, be sure to look at the Parent Forum section of the MasterDrive site to share information with other families. 7. Who Is Your Child Riding With? Did you know that of those 7,000 teens killed in car crashes this year, more than 40% of them will be killed by their friends. Every family should be extremely concerned about who your child is riding with? Are they competent and responsible? You do need to step up, express your concerns, and be involved in these decisions. 8. Cost of Auto Insurance. When your teen gets a driver s license, the cost of your family s auto insurance is going to increase by an average of 200% to 300%; subject to your current policy, types of vehicles, etc. This is due only to the addition of a new teen driver.

4 If your teen gets a ticket, the premium for your insurance will accelerate more. Even a couple of minor speeding tickets can mean several thousands of dollars in additional premium to your family, because it will be on their driving record for insurance purposes for 3 to 5 years. If it is a serious ticket or an at- fault crash, the premium costs will quickly become outrageous. Sometimes unaffordable! We recommend that you have an in depth discussion with your insurance agent before your teen gets a license, and then an in depth discussion with your teen regarding the possibility of the cost of their insurance being the determinant of whether they can continue to drive or not! Strategies To Reduce The Risk 1. Preparation. First and foremost, make absolutely sure that you believe your teen is prepared to drive. Actual skills to control a car; the maturity to make good decisions; and the responsibility and commitment that they will not risk the family. Just because they can drive around the block and not hit a parked car does not mean they know how to drive! Advanced Skills Training They need the training of an advanced skills training course. They need to know how to recognize and handle bad driving conditions. They need to know how to handle crisis situations. They need lots of hours of coaching in driving on the street by a professional driving coach and by parents. We all know they need more and more experience. That is how a human being learns experientially - by doing! Their preparation will be important for their entire lives. 2. Parent / Teen Contract A Parent/Teen Contract will definitely help reduce risks. This contract should provide for the behavioral expectations of the teen, and the consequences of not abiding by the agreement. The consequences should be defined up front as a part of the contract. Not after something happens. It should include the potential of the parents withdrawal of their signature on the license upon the teen s involvement in certain dangerous behaviors. This rescinds the license and protects the family. The contract should provide for the teen s understanding of financial responsibility to the family, and that they will not risk the family. The contract may also cover other important issues such as driving while impaired, alcohol in a vehicle, tickets, additional cost of insurance, maintaining grade point average, riding with friends, etc. The teen needs to understand that the license is a conditional and provisional license with the family not just the state.

5 We would recommend that parents set very clear rules in regard to texting while driving, which is potentially the most dangerous activity and therefore places the entire family at the greatest risk. Text messaging can and will be tracked in the event of a crash! It will be used as evidence. A recommended example of a Parent/Teen Contract, developed by The Driving Skills Institute, along with Contract Guidelines, is available for free from MasterDrive. 3. Family Rules for Riding The parents should make it a point to know exactly who your teen is riding with, and define a clear line of communication and expectations with the parents of your teen s friends. This may at first sound like a challenge for you, but it is one of the most important things a family can do. Did you know that for each additional teen in a car, the fatality rate goes up 100% for each kid? That would be logical. Talking, - distraction sensory overload divided attention. Recently, the daughter of a friend and her boy friend were killed because the girl who was driving the car reached for a pack of gum, the car veered, she tried to correct but jerked the car out of control and rolled. MasterDrive Families frequently tell us that they will not let their kids ride with someone who has not completed the Driving Camp - the MasterDrive Survival Skills course. They actually enforce it, because it gives them piece of mind regarding their kids. Remember, more than 40% of teens are killed by their friends. Know who your child is riding with. Are they responsible? Are they skillful? Set the rules. 4. Evaluation An actual evaluation of your teen s driving skills is difficult for you to measure, because you do not have the environment to create the crisis situations. Still, you do need to know whether they have the skill to correct a skid, respond to a crisis, avoid a potential crash, brake without losing control of the car. Would you feel better if you could observe your daughter or son doing those things? And you could evaluate them doing it? And knowing that they can do them? On the last day of the MasterDrive Driving Camp, we invite the parents to come out for the Recital Course. It is a great experience for the family. After a briefing, the parents are invited to ride through a very difficult car control course with their teen. It is an excellent way to observe the skill level of their child, and what they have learned about car control. This opportunity to evaluate is an important process for the entire family. 5. Earn the Privileges A Rite of Passage When the teen gets a driver s license, there is a very effective way to use the process as a Rite of Passage. Some parents just hand over all driving decisions immediately to their teen when they get their license. This can be very risky for several reasons.

6 A very effective strategy is to use the process as a Rite of Passage with the teen. Set up very controlled driving privileges at first. A few things that they are able to do. If for a specific period of time the teen responds responsibly, they can earn more privileges. If they handle those things responsibly, they then get more privileges. This will help teach a teen about earning privileges, but only by being held responsible. The Parent/Teen Contract is an important part of this process. 6. Umbrella Insurance Every Parent should talk with their auto insurance agent about getting an umbrella liability policy. If your family has assets that you do not want to lose, you need to protect those assets. This coverage is affordable. 7. Maintain the Relationship The relationship between parents and a teen at about this time in their lives is, at best, tenuous. Through the learning to drive process, your relationship can get even more tenuous. And yet, one of the most important things is to maintain a good relationship with your child. For more information about strategies, and what you can do, go to the MasterDrive Family section. Does it sound like we re trying to scare you? Yes! We are trying to get your attention BEFORE something happens. To give you some strategies to reduce the risks to your children and your family. Many parents don t think about this until it is too late. These are some specific pro- active strategies that you can implement to reduce the risks to your child. For more information, look at the MasterDrive Family section or contact The Driving Skills Institute. * * * * * * *

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