The Complete Teen Driver Safety Guide [Statistics + Expert Tips]
Drivers education is mandatory for teen drivers in 32 states. In some cases, insurance companies offer a discount if your teen completes a state authorized course.
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|Teen Drivers - By the Numbers||Statistics|
|Leading Cause of Death||Motor Vehicle Crashes
|Fatalities||2,433 teens (ages 16–19)
|Car Crash Fatality Rate||6 teens a day|
|Highest-Risk Age Group||16-17
|Average Car Insurance Rates|
For the teenager, there are few milestones as significant as getting behind the wheel as a licensed driver. Without a doubt, teens spend years looking forward to gaining this new level of independence and savoring this important step toward adulthood.
But it’s the flip side of this scenario that every parent fears. The flashing lights, the damaged bumper, and the shattered glass.
In other words, getting into a serious accident.
Here’s what you need to know — statistics reveal startling trends for young drivers.
Car crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens and half will get into a car crash before graduating from high school
With statistics like these, it’s no wonder parents often experience fear and apprehension when teaching their teens to drive. But by taking a closer look at the common factors behind these crashes, parents can empower and prepare their teens to make smarter decisions on the road.
The good news? Through this complete guide to teen driver safety, parents have a resource. In covering everything from crash statistics, to important risk factors, and to tips, parents will walk away with a greater understanding of how to help new drivers overcome challenges and stress.
This guide will also reveal the best cars for novice drivers, as well as ways for families to reduce auto insurance rates. In fact, you can begin shopping rates for your teen now by entering your zip code into our free car insurance comparison tool.
Bottom line? Your roadmap to a safer and well-informed teenage driver starts now.
What are the Risk Factors for Teen Drivers?
We’ll start with the good news.
A study conducted by the Governors Highway Safety Association reveals that teen driver involvement in crashes fell between 2005 and 2014.
The bad news? The risk rate among teens remains high, especially when compared to other age groups. In fact, the association reports that teens are 1.6 times more likely than adults to be involved in a fatal crash.
What amounts for such a high-risk rate among teens? Experts have identified several common risk factors:
- Driver inexperience
- Distracted driving
- Driving with other passengers
- Driving at night
- Seatbelt use
- Speeding and reckless driving
- Impaired Driving
While attempting to address each of these factors with your teen may seem intimidating, we’re using expert data and advice to tackle each one.
Teen Driver Fatalities and Statistics
Before we dive into these risk factors, it’s important parents are aware of the statistics surrounding teen drivers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in 2016,
- Six teens ages 16 to 19 died every day as a result of motor vehicle crashes. It’s why motor vehicle crashes are known to be the leading cause of death among teens.
- Additionally, hundreds of teens were treated for injuries daily, amounting to over 292,000 that same year.
Male drivers are particularly susceptible. According to the CDC, the death rate for male drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 was twice that of their female counterparts.
Experts warn the first few months of teens having their license are especially critical. The fatal crash rate per mile driven for 16 and 17-year-olds is nearly twice that of 18 and 19-year-old drivers.
In spite of these figures, parents need to remember this — crashes can be preventable, and proven strategies exist to help keep young drivers safe on the road.
Teens as Inexperienced Drivers
Despite popular belief, risky teen driving isn’t always the result of being cavalier or adventurous. Experts say it really boils down to one word —
Years of research continues to reinforce the fact that a lack of experience is the top reason why teens end up in crashes. In fact, a Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) Research Institute study found that one of the most common errors involved in teen crashes was in young drivers not scanning the roadway.
Here’s the deal — teen drivers are still working to develop their skill in looking for potential road hazards like pedestrians, bicyclists, and other vehicles. Where older, more experienced drivers know how to scan the road ahead and judge certain situations, many teens just aren’t used to doing that.
Howver, researchers asure parents that as new drivers gain more experience, the crash risk drops dramatically — particularly within the first 12 months.
Without a doubt, this experience must come through the advisement and guidance of parents and other seasoned drivers.
Teenagers and Distracted Driving
Where most tend to associate distracted driving with electronics and mobile devices, the NHTSA reminds parents there’s more. Here’s how the administration defines distracted driving:
“…any activity that could divert attention from the primary task of driving. Besides using electronic gadgets, distractions can also include adjusting a radio, eating and drinking, reading, grooming, and interacting with passengers.”
The NHTSA goes on to share that in 2017:
- 297 people died in crashes that involved distracted teen drivers ages 15 to 19.
- 229 teens, also ages 15 to 19, were killed in distraction-affected crashes.
Teens, Texting, and Driving
It’s pretty simple — using a cellphone while driving increases the risk of crashing.Yet research shows that 42 percent of high school students admit to sending an email or text while driving.
Another study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that teenage girls are twice as likely as teenage boys to use cellphones and other devices while driving.
This becomes even more serious when considering this from the CHOP Research Institute —
Using a cell phone while behind the wheel reduces brain activity tied to driving by 37 percent.
This video is graphic but demonstrates the danger of teens texting and driving:
Given the dangers associated with teens using their cellphones while driving, a number of states have enacted bans specific to young drivers. You can search for your state int the table below:
|State||Hand-Held Ban||Young drivers |
all cell phone ban
|AL||no||16-year-old drivers; |
17-year-old drivers who have held an intermediate license
for fewer than 6 months
|AZ||all drivers||learner's permit holders and intermediate license holders |
during the first 6 months after licensing
|AR||drivers 18 or older but younger than 21; |
school and highway work zones
|drivers younger than 18||all drivers|
|CA||all drivers||drivers younger than 18||all drivers|
|CO||no||drivers younger than 18||all drivers|
|CT||all drivers||drivers younger than 18||all drivers|
|DE||all drivers||learner's permit and intermediate license holders||all drivers|
|DC||all drivers||learner's permit holders||all drivers|
|FL||drivers in school and work zones |
|GA||all drivers||drivers younger than 18||all drivers|
|HI||all drivers||drivers younger than 18||all drivers|
|IL||all drivers||drivers younger than 19 and learner's permit holders younger than 19||all drivers|
|IN||no||drivers younger than 21||all drivers|
|IA||no||learner's permit and intermediate license holders||all drivers|
|KS||no||learner's permit and intermediate license holders||all drivers|
|KY||no||drivers younger than 18||all drivers|
|LA||drivers in signed school zones||all novice drivers, see footnote for detailFootnote5||all drivers|
|ME||all drivers |
|learner's permit and intermediate license holders||all drivers|
|MD||all drivers||drivers younger than 18||all drivers|
|MA||no||drivers younger than 18||all drivers|
|MI||no||learner's permit and intermediate license holders (level 1 and 2); integrated voice-operated systems excepted||all drivers|
|MN||all drivers||learner's permit holders and provisional license holders during the first 12 months after licensing||all drivers|
|MO||no||no||drivers 21 and younger|
|NE||no||learner's permit and intermediate license holders younger than 18||all drivers|
|NV||all drivers||no||all drivers|
|NH||all drivers||drivers younger than 18||all drivers|
|NJ||all drivers||learner's permit and intermediate license holders||all drivers|
|NM||no||learner's permit and intermediate license holders||all drivers|
|NY||all drivers||no||all drivers|
|NC||no||drivers younger than 18||all drivers|
|ND||no||drivers younger than 18||all drivers|
|OH||no||drivers younger than 18||all drivers|
|OK||learner's permit and |
intermediate license holders
|OR||all drivers||drivers younger than 18||all drivers|
|RI||all drivers||drivers younger than 18||all drivers|
|SD||no||learner's permit and intermediate license holders||all drivers|
|TN||all drivers||learner's permit and |
intermediate license holders
|TX||drivers in school crossing zones |
and on public school property during the time
the reduced speed limit applies
|drivers younger than 18||all drivers|
|UT||no||drivers younger than 18||all drivers|
|VT||all drivers||drivers younger than 18||all drivers|
|VA||drivers in highway work zones||drivers younger than 18||all drivers|
|WA||all drivers||learner's permit and intermediate license holders||all drivers|
|WV||all drivers||drivers younger than 18 who hold either a learner's permit or an intermediate license||all drivers|
|WI||drivers in highway construction areas||learner's permit and intermediate license holders||all drivers|
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia advises parents to teach teen drivers to complete texts and calls before or after driving. Experts also recommend parents avoid calling teens when they know they’re driving. Finally, parents can opt to monitor their teen’s phone use (and driving behaviors) through cellphone apps and in-car devices.
Teens Driving with Other Passengers
The presence of other passengers — particularly other teens — can pose a serious distraction to new drivers. That’s because when teenage drivers transport other teens, the risk of crashing increases.
The Insurance Information Institute reports that the risk of 16 and 17-year-old drivers being killed in a crash increases with each additional teenage passenger. It goes up 44 percent with one, doubles with two, and quadruples with three or more.
These statistics are exactly why most states restrict the number of passengers for novice drivers (we discuss this in greater detail in our section about Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws.)
Bottom line? It’s important to give young drivers time to develop their skills before adding other young passengers to the equation.
Teens Driving Impaired and Underage Drinking
When it comes to underage drinking, we learn this from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism:
- Alcohol is the number one most used drug among youth
- By the age of 15, about a third of all teens have had at least one drink.
- By the age of 18, about 60 percent of all teens have had at least one drink
Now, combine underage drinking with driving. According to the CDC:
- One in 10 teens in high school drink and drive, and
- Drivers ages 16-20 are 17 times more likely to die in a crash when they have a blood alcohol concentration of .08% compared to when they haven’t been drinking.
Keep in mind, underage drinking and driving isn’t our only concern. Many states also have laws in place for drug-impaired driving. The Governors Highway Association reports that 16 states have zero-tolerance laws in place for one or more drugs, and 18 have laws in place addressing driving marijuana.
Experts agree — combating alcohol and drug-impaired driving is a community effort. Parents must speak to their teens about their behaviors, and communities must step up with school-based programs and initiatives.
Teens Driving at Night
Whether it’s to run errands or to hang out with friends, teenage drivers will undoubtedly be eager to drive at night.
The problem? Statistics are not on their side. According to the CDC:
One-third of all 16 and 17-year-old drivers involved in fatal crashes between 2009-2014 crashed at night, between 9:00 p.m. and 5:59 a.m. Of those drivers involved in night crashes, more than half crashed before midnight.
The dangers associated with teens driving at night go beyond reduced visibility. Experts caution that the nighttime will bring out more drivers who are drowsy or under the influence.
Most states have laws in place restricting nighttime driving for teens. But parents must also take an active role:
- Help your teens practice driving at night
- Ensure they are well-rested
- Plan nighttime trips in advance
Teens Speeding and Driving Recklessly
For many, it’s all about the thrill. Taking roads and curves at high speeds, and experimenting with daring maneuvers.
For any driver, speeding and reckless driving pose as serious dangers. The statistics are especially troubling for teens:
- The NHTSA reports that in 2016, speeding was a factor in 32 percent of all fatal crashes involving teen drivers
- The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s (CHOP) Research Institute reports that teens are more likely than older drivers to speed and have a shorter distance between cars.
It’s important to note that speeding and reckless driving aren’t always intentional acts by teens. In many cases, teens aren’t simply experienced enough to understand that certain circumstances — like higher volumes of traffic or wet roads — may require lower speeds.
The National Safety Council also notes that teens are still learning driving techniques like how to safely passing a vehicle, or how to navigate construction zones or school zones.
The best thing parents can do? Talk teens through real-life scenarios, and emphasize the seriousness of their decisions.
Teens and Seatbelt Use
Here’s what you need to know — according to the NHTSA, the majority of teens involved in crashes aren’t wearing their seatbelts.
But the findings don’t stop there. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s (CHOP) Research Institute shares this:
Teenagers, whtether they’re passengers or drivers, have the lowest rate of set belt use of any age group.
This is especially troubling in light of the fact that seatbelts save lives — nearly 14,000 in 2015, to be exact. After all,
- When worn properly, seat belts decrease the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passengers by 45 percent
- People not wearing a seat belt are 30 times more likely to be ejected from a vehicle during a crash.
Experts insist that wearing seatbelts must be part of every driver’s regular routine. If parents aren’t already emphasizing this to their teens, they need to start now.
Obtaining Auto Insurance with a Suspended License
If you have had your license suspended, there is a good chance that you will be dropped from your current insurance provider and will be unable to obtain car insurance from a different provider.
This is usually because it is against the law to drive while carrying a suspended license. Some insurance providers will be willing and able to make some exceptions, especially if it wasn’t suspended for a very serious reason.
As a teenager, you may need to be able to drive to a job or to school, especially if you are in a situation in which no one can help you out and you are not close to public transportation.
In this case, you may be able to contact your state’s department of transportation or motor vehicle commission and request a hardship license.
A driver’s license for hardship is a restrictive license that lets you drive to and from work and/or school, but nowhere else.
The requirements for receiving a hardship license may vary from state to state. You will have to provide information proving you are employed or a student and that public transportation is not available.
If you are approved for a hardship license, you will need to have written proof from either the department of transportation or the motor vehicle commissions. It may cost extra money to receive this license.
A hardship license will help make it easier to find an insurance provider to insure you. Make sure to contact at least three different auto insurance companies before you choose one.
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Teaching Teenagers to Drive
To help teens progress from the passenger’s seat to the driver’s seat is, without a doubt, one of the most important lessons any adult can teach their child. But for many parents, just the thought of teaching teenagers to drive is enough to evoke anxiety.
Thankfully, parents don’t have to be fearful of the process. Thanks to strong state laws, driver’s education programs, and plenty of expert studies — parents are surrounded by resources.
– What is a Graduated Driver Licensing Program?
Rather than allow novice drivers to go from zero to 60 in full privileges, each state has adopted some form of Graduated Driver’s License (GDL) laws for teens.
GDL laws are designed to help teens practice their skills and gain more experience over time. Once they earn a permit, teens begin the driving process with limited privileges. They’ll gradually earn more privileges as they meet certain benchmarks, such as a specific number of supervised driving hours, or passing a driver’s test.
Transportation and insurance experts overwhelmingly agree — as states have enacted GDL laws, the number of fatal teen crashes has decreased.
In fact, the Insurance Information Institute credits a dramatic 68 percent reduction in fatalities of 16-year-old drivers between 1996 and 2010 to the adoption of GDL laws. The institute goes on to say that if “if every state adopted all five of the toughest laws that it had identified, about 500 lives could be saved and 9,500 collisions prevented each year.”
GDL Programs and Teens: How they Work
Most GDL programs consist of three stages:
- Stage 1 (Learner’s Permit): Requirements and recommendations typically include taking a vision test, driving under the supervision of a licensed adult, seat belt use by all passengers, a zero BAC level, a road knowledge test, and six months with no crashes or convictions for traffic violations.
- Stage 2 (Intermediate or Restricted License): This typically includes a behind-the-wheel road test, advanced driver education training, driving with a licensed adult at night, and 12 consecutive months with no crashes or convictions for traffic offenses
- Stage 3 (Full-Privilege Stage): Teens operate under a standard driver’s license with no restrictions.
Because GDL laws vary by state, parents and teens will want to make note of some important exceptions:
Every state, except for Vermont, restricts nighttime driving for teenagers during the Stage 2 Intermediate Licensing Phase.
- Nighttime restrictions typically mean that teens can only drive supervised during ceratin night hours. For instance, some states don’t allow teens to drive unsupervised between midnight and 5:00 a.m.
- Exceptions may be made for work, school or religious activities, and emergencies.
Every state — with the exceptions of Florida, Iowa, Mississippi, South Dakota, and North Dakota — restricts the number of passengers during the intermediate stage.
New Jersey has some of the most restrictive GDL laws in the country. According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, New Jersey is the only state where GDL laws apply to all new drivers under 21. Many experts believe the restrictions are making a difference, as the state has seen a reduction in crash rates among 17 and 18-year-old drivers.
We’ve compiled a table with an overview of each state’s GDL laws according to the Insurance Information Institute. Keep in mind that some cities have driving restrictions and guidelines that differ from the state level. Therefore, you’ll want to be diligent and research your state’s GDL laws.
|State||Learners permit required|
for a minimum period
|Has restrictions on|
|New Jersey||6 months||X||X|
|New Mexico||6 months||X||X|
|New York||6 months||X||X|
|North Carolina||12 months||X||X|
|North Dakota||6-12 months||X|
|Rhode Island||6 months||X||X|
|South Carolina||6 months||X||X|
|South Dakota||6 months||X|
|West Virginia||6 months||X||X|
At What Age Can Teens Begin Driving?
The age at which teens can earn their permit varies from state to state. Where most have a minimum entry age between 15 and 16, a handful of states allow teens to begin driving at younger ages:
- Alaska, North Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, Arkansas, and South Dakota allow drivers as young as 14 to begin earning their permits.
- Idaho and Montana allow drivers who are 14 years and 6 months to begin earning permits.
- Michigan allows drivers who are 14 years and 9 months to begin earning permits.
A state-by-state breakdown of minimum licensing ages can be found on this IIHS site.
Driver’s Ed Programs for Teens
The goals behind driver’s education (or driver’s ed) are simple — teach teens the rules of the road, help them become safe drivers, and prepare them to pass the tests needed for a license. According to the NHTSA, formal driver’s ed programs exist in just about every U.S. jurisdiction and are often a key component of GDL laws.
DriversEd.com shares that some of the benefits to driver’s education include:
- Learning defensive driving
- Learning traffic laws and road signs
- Working with licensed and certified instructors
- Earning possible car insurance discounts
While formal driver’s education is not required in every state, each state does have a set of rules and requirements teens must meet before getting their license. Additionally, some states allow students to take driver’s education courses online.
Parents looking to find a driver’s education program for their teens can check in with their local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Be sure to look for courses that have been certified or licensed by the state’s DMV.
Parents can also see whether their teen’s high school offers driver’s education, or look for courses that are part of the AAA Driving School Network.
Helping Your Teen Become a Better Driver
The burden of better driving shouldn’t fall solely on driver’s education programs. Parents play a paramount role in ensuring their teens move from novice to know-how. However, the lingering question for many parents is — How do I do that?
Fortunately, this is a question many experts have been working to answer for years, and the resources are plentiful. Whether it’s in establishing a Parent-Teen Driving contract, scheduling practice sessions with your teen, or using online programs — parents have options in how to help their teens become better drivers.
– 10 Tips for Parents Teaching Teens to Drive
Whether parents realize it or not, children are paying close attention to their driving habits. Therefore, when it comes to helping teens become better drivers, experts stress one of the most important things a parent can do is lead by example. After all,
Parents shouldn’t expect teenagers to refrain from texting and driving, speeding, or other risky behind-the-wheel behaviors if that’s what they regularly observe.
Jen Stockburger, who heads the Consumer Reports Auto Test Center, reminds parents that the example they set for their children will be the most important one.
From here, we’re sharing our10 tips on how parents can effectively teach their teens to drive:
- Don’t leave all of the teaching to the professionals. As the old adage goes, “Practice makes perfect.” For the young driver, the more time they can spend learning behind the wheel, the better. Make it a point to schedule additional practice sessions with your child including driving at night, in rainy weather, or on a highway
- Don’t just familiarize yourself with your state’s GDL laws. Enforce them. Law enforcement officers shouldn’t be the only ones making sure your teens aren’t violating the law. Talk to your teens about your state’s GDL programs, and be sure to enforce them at home.
- Begin talking to your teen early. It’s never too early to begin making your teen aware of the seriousness and responsibility of driving. Begin talking to them about your expectations, and guide them through scenarios as you’re driving.
- Give them a tour of the car. State Farm Auto Insurance recommends taking the time to make sure your teen can identify the major controls and feature of a car. This includes how to adjust mirrors, using the parking brake, high beams and low beams, windshield wipers, and more.
- Start small. Help ease your teen into driving by planning shorter trips that are just a few miles from home.
- Help them study for their tests by reviewing your state’s driver’s guide with them. Help them identify traffic signs and road markings, and quiz them each time you’re in the car.
- Teach your teens how to maintain a car. This includes checking tires, fluids, and conducting regular maintenance like oil changes.
- Don’t be afraid to search, and ask for, help.
- Expect mistakes. The National Safety Council (NSC) reminds parents that mistakes are an important part of the learning process. Be ready to correct them when they happen, and offer praise when they do well.
- Remain calm. Teaching a teen to drive can lead to tense moments and misunderstandings. The NSC suggests parents work to remain calm throughout the process and take time to pause and cool off as needed.
Establish a Parent-Teen Driving Contract
Without a doubt, good driving begins at home. One key to success will involve setting clear boundaries, as well as clear consequences.
This is where Parent-Teen Driving Contracts come in.
An advantage to having a contract is that it is a written document. Some examples of what can be addressed in Parent-Teen Driving Contracts include:
- Teens agreeing to maintain an acceptable GPA
- Teens agreeing to always provide parents with the address of their intended destination and time of return
- Teens agreeing not to drive distracted — eating, talking on the phone, playing loud music, or riding with too many passengers.
- Parents agreeing to provide times of practice and supervision
- Parents and teens agreeing upon financial responsibilities
In addition to creating a list of agreements, parents and teens need to come up with a list of consequences. This can include the reduction of, or complete loss of, driving privileges.
Parents looking for guidance on how to craft these contracts can look to these examples:
- This contract created by AAA covers non-negotiable rules, teen privileges, responsibilities, and more.
- This contract created by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention addresses rules of the road, distracted driving, underage drinking, and more.
– Monitoring Your Teen’s Driving
Parents looking for an added layer of accountability have options, thanks to a number of mobile apps and in-car tracking devices. Where young drivers may see this type of monitoring as invasive, parents may consider it lifesaving.
For parents, the appeal in these apps is two-fold — the ability to monitor a teen’s driving behavior (such as hard braking or speeding), as well as their ability to receive notifications or reports of risky behavior. Many of these apps work in conjunction with GPS and/or Bluetooth.
- EverDrive is a free app that tracks phone use, hard braking, speeding, acceleration, and hard cornering. The app assigns scores to your driving, and advises you on how you can improve.
- TrueMotion Family Safe Driving is another free app that monitors and scores distracted driving, hard braking, speeding, and more. This app also sends push notifications to parents if teens break certain rules.
- Life360 is an app that will notify emergency services and family members upon a collision (available through the Driver Protect Plan, which costs $7.99/month). Life360 also offers a free version with limited options.
- DriveSmart is a free app geared toward teens. It reminds teens to buckle up, provides information about each trip, and gives personalized feedback about their driving habits.
- Verizon’s Hum offers two cellphone-based apps, and two in-car devices. Services will vary based on which option you choose, but all include safety scores, crash response, roadside assistance, and navigation.
Keep in mind that more and more automakers are offering parental controls as added features to their vehicles:
- Ford’s MyKey uses programmable keys that activate certain safety features, like setting a maximum speed limit or volume.
- GM’s Teen Driver feature can not only limit speeds and volume, but it also has a report card feature that allows parents and teens to review driving behavior
- Toyota’s Guest Driver Monitor function in its Remote Connect app allows you to pre-set conditions and get notifications when drivers break curfew, exceed maximum speed limits, and more.
Tips for Teen Drivers
It’s an acronym that’s endured the test of time—
S.I.P.D.E. stands for “Scan (or Search), Identify, Predict, Decide and Execute,” and it’s been used in driver’s education courses for years. S.I.P.D.E. represents a five-step process designed to help new drivers engage their senses and become more aware of and responsive to their surroundings.
Here’s a breakdown of each step:
- SEARCH (or SCAN) the road ahead, your sides, and your rearview and side mirrors.
- IDENTIFY objects or conditions that could interfere with your path of travel — like a car accelerating behind you
- PREDICT what actions or changes in conditions on or near the roadway could increase your level of risk. For instance, if a car is riding too close behind you, you may predict that it could hit you.
- DECIDE what action or actions to take — such as slowing down, changing lanes, or braking.
- EXECUTE your decision by following through with your determined course of action
Free Driving Resources for Parents and Teens
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia offers a free “TeenDrivingPlan” (TDP) with elements that are accessible online. The plan consists of four components:
- Learning through videos that help guide parents in creating a positive learning environment and structured practice activities
- An interactive practice planner to help families set goals
- Practice sessions for parents and teens
- Logging and rating tools to help families track practice hours and skill development
The entire guide — complete with video instruction and logging tools — can be accessed here. Additional information can be accessed through the center’s teendriversource.org site.
The National Safety Council has created a video gallery with a variety of informative clips suitable for both parents and teens.
Through AAA’s Key2Drive Program, parents in every state can access an online guide with tips and rules of the road specific to where they live. To begin, head to https://teendriving.aaa.com and select your state.
The National Safety Council offers 52 free practice lessons for parents and teens, one for each week of the year. The lessons target a variety of everyday scenarios ranging from parallel parking to U-turns. The lessons are available in .pdfs, and are in English and Spanish.
Car Insurance for Teenage Drivers
For most, this should come as no surprise — the younger the driver, the higher the rates.
As long as statistics point to teenage drivers experiencing higher rates of collisions and fatal crashes, car insurance companies will anticipate a higher number of claims and therefore, auto insurance costs more for young drivers.
Adding a teenage driver to your policy will undoubtedly result in a rate increase. But here’s what parents and teens need to know —
- Never underestimate the value of shopping for rates, and
- There are ways to save on car insurance for young drivers.
What is the Cheapest Car Insurance for Teen Drivers?
To answer this question, we begin by examining the average teen auto insurance rates across the U.S. We specifically looked to Quadrant data rates for 17-year-old male and female drivers:
|Insurance Provider||17-year-old female||17-year-old male|
In terms of which provider is offering the lowest average rates for 17-year-old drivers, the answer is obvious — USAA. Whether the driver is male or female, USAA offers the lowest average annual rates at $5,385.61 and $4,807.54, respectively. Geico and Nationwide offer the next lowest rates for both males and females.
The provider with the highest average rates for 17-year-old drivers is Liberty Mutual, with an average annual rate of $13,718.69 for males and $11,621.01 for females. The next highest rates for males and females can be found with Travelers and Allstate.
What’s also worth mentioning is the dramatic difference in rates for male and female drivers.
With an overall average of $9,027.64 among top 10 national providers, this data reinforces what is commonly known in car insurance — that young men tend to pay more in premiums than young women.
The 10 Lowest Teen Auto Insurance States
Rates also vary by location. Below is Quadrant data on the top 10 cheapest states for teen drivers.
|States||Average Annual Rates||Cheapest Company for 17-Year-Old Males||Cheapest Company's Average Annual Rates for 17-Year-Old Males||Cheapest Company for 17-Year-Old Females||Cheapest Company's Average Annual Rates for 17-Year-Old Females|
|Hawaii||$2,696.83||State Farm||$1,040.28||State Farm||$1,040.28|
|North Carolina||$5,371.26||Liberty Mutual||$3,197.53||Liberty Mutual||$3,197.53|
|Wyoming||$5,828.93||Liberty Mutual||$4,046.51||Liberty Mutual||$3,605.13|
|Massachusetts||$6,016.14||State Farm||$2,583.99||State Farm||$2,583.99|
|Montana||$6,092.26||Liberty Mutual||$2,064.28||Liberty Mutual||$2,064.28|
|Wisconsin||$6,206.76||American Family||$3,134.61||American Family||$2,844.04|
Hawaii is the cheapest state for teen drivers. State Farm is incredibly cheap in Hawaii, as it charges teen drivers just over $1,000 for car insurance.
As well, you may have noticed that State Farm, Liberty Mutual, and USAA tend to have the cheapest rates in these states. This isn’t always the case with Liberty Mutual, as it’s average rate is usually over $11,000 for teen drivers.
Surprisingly, Geico only appears once as the provider with the cheapest rate for teen drivers. While Geico generally has lower rates for teen drivers, other insurers were cheaper in the top 10 cheapest states.
Nine Ways to Save on Car Insurance for Teen Drivers
Sticker shock aside, parents and teens can be assured that it is possible to save on car insurance for new drivers. Here are our top 10 tips:
- Add your teen to your policy, rather than paying for a separate one. Experts with esurance say that adding a teen to an existing policy will almost always be the most cost-effective strategy for families. However, this scenario may not work for everyone. Be sure to examine all of your options.
- Share a car with your teen. Rather than adding another car to the policy, Nationwide suggests adding your teen as a secondary driver to a vehicle that’s already insured.
- Buy your teenager a used car. This is because used cars tend to be assessed lower rates than newer cars.
- Look for discounts. According to the Insurance Information Institute, insurance providers often offer discounts or reduced premiums for:
- Good grades (usually a “B” average or better)
- Driver’s ed or a recognized driver-training course
- College students who attend college at least 100 miles from home, and don’t bring their cars with them.
- Bundle policies. Bundling car insurance policies with home or renter’s insurance may lead to additional discounts and lower rates
- Opt for Usage-Based Insurance. Also known as “Pay-as-you-drive” or “pay-how-you-drive” insurance. This could prove to be a much more cost-effective measure for teens, especially those with good driving habits and shorter commutes.
- Raise your deductible. Increasing your comprehensive or collision deductible from $500 to $1,000 could result in a lower monthly premium. But remember — should you get in an accident, you’ll have higher out-of-pocket costs.
- Delay getting a license. Instead of getting a license at 16, parents may opt to have their teens wait another year or two when rates will be lower.
- Shop Around. Companies will vary on how they price teen drivers. Therefore, it’s always a good rule of thumb to shop rates before adding your teen to your policy. (You can begin now by entering your zip code into our FREE car insurance comparison tool.)
Experts advise that one thing parents should be wary of is intentionally excluding their teens from their policies. Many states have laws that require parents to add all licensed children in their homes to their policies. Additionally, excluding your teen could result in them not being covered if they’re involved in an accident while using your car.
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How to Request Online Teen Auto Insurance Quotes
Getting teen auto insurance online has never been easier. You can go one by one through each provider for your quotes but we recommend using our free comparison tool to compare multiple quotes all in one spot.
You can compare what your rates are for your teen against the national averages we provided above and make the right choice to protect your family.
Again it’s simple: just enter your zip code below.
What are the Best Cars for Teenage Drivers?
When it comes to transportation for the inexperienced driver, not all cars are created equal. In fact, experts caution that the features teens tend to find most appealing — like a car’s size or engine — could end up working against them.
Consumer Reports puts it best when they say that choosing cars with safety in mind will help reinforce the actions of teens who are still developing their experience and judgment.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety lists five major recommendations when picking a car for teens:
- Avoid cars with high horsepower. The more powerful the engine, the more tempting it is for teens to test the limits.
- Bigger and heavier cars are safer. Larger cars not only fare better in crashes, but research also shows that teens are less likely to crash them. For the IIHS, some small SUVs are included in their recommendations because they weigh about as much as midsize cars.
- Look for Electronic Stability Control (ESC). This helps reduce risk and helps drivers maintain control on curves and slippery roads
- Check for recalls. Use the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on used cars to look for recalls on this NHTSA site
- Research Safety Ratings. The IIHS recommends the following:
- “Good” ratings in the moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraint tests.
- Four or fives stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Best Cars for Teens
The car your teen drives affects their rates. The IIHS has compiled a list of suggested cars — predominantly used — based on make, model, and the institute’s recommended safety ratings. The cars range from $3,700 to just under $20,000, according to Kelly Blue Book. We’ve listed some of IIHS’ top recommendations below, categorized by size:
- Volkswagen Passat, sedan or wagon, 2009-12
- Ford Fusion, 2011-2012
- Buick Verano, 2012-2015
- Toyota Camry, 2012 and newer
- Nissan Altima sedan, 2013 and newer; built after November 2012
- Volvo S80, 2007 and newer
- Ford Taurus, 2013 and newer
- Chevrolet Impala, 2015 and newer
- Ford Taurus, 2010-12
- Buick LaCrosse, 2010-16
- Mazda CX-5, 2013
- Buick Encore, 2013-14
- Honda CR-V, 2012 and newer
- Fiat 500X, 2016 and newer; built after July 2015
- Nissan Rogue, 2014 and newer
- Volvo XC90, 2005 and newer
- Ford Flex, 2011 and newer
- Chevrolet Equinox, 2014 and newer
- Subaru Tribeca/B9 Tribeca, 2006-2014
- Dodge Journey, 2010 and newer
Car Insurance for Teen After Accident
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) published a recent web article on teenage drivers, focusing on the reasons that they are at such a high risk for potential injuries and even death from motor vehicle accidents on the streets and highways of America.
Teens are much more likely to underestimate or fail to recognize perilous situations than their older counterparts. Teenage drivers are also more likely to speed and tailgate the drivers in front of them. Teenagers, especially males, are also more likely to show off for their peers if there are teenage passengers in the car.
The risk of crashing is especially high during the first year a teenager is on the road. Among teens 15 to 20 who were involved in fatal auto accidents, 37 percent had been speeding while 26 percent had been drinking. Young men are twice as likely to die in an automobile crash as young female drivers are.
Teen Driving Stats
Other statistic based factors are: to car crashes.
- Teens are less likely to use seat belts than older drivers do.
- Teenage drivers also engage in a number of other risky behaviors that can be directly linked to car crashes.
- High percentages of teens don’t wear their seatbelts when riding as passengers as well.
- Teen drivers are also distracted easily by friends in the car or by their cell phones, iPods, or other electronic devices. In the last few years, many states have passed motor vehicle laws making it a crime to text while driving in addition to using a cell phone without a hands-free device.
- According to the CDC, a survey completed in 2007 found that almost 30 percent of teens reported riding with a driver in the previous month that had been drinking. In 2008, of those teens killed in an auto accident after drinking, 75 percent were not wearing their seat belts.
Most fatal accidents involving teens occur on the weekends between the hours of three in the afternoon and midnight.
– Assigned Risk Coverage
Car and Driver Magazine posted this article on assigned risk auto coverage also known as the assigned risk pool.
Teens who have suffered serious accidents or received multiple traffic violations may find their state’s assigned risk pool the only available insurance coverage if they intend to continue driving.
All avenues should be pursued since obtaining insurance through a private company may still be possible and is usually preferable to the risk pool.
If you can’t get insurance through regular channels, your state will provide at least minimal coverage, but you will certainly pay premiums several times those of conventional coverage for the privilege.
Not just teenagers could be caught in the assigned risk pool. Anyone with a poor driving record or whose insurance may have lapsed for a period of years may need pool coverage.
Adults who have not driven in a number of years may also be classified in the assigned risk category.
Residents of high-crime and therefore high insurance risk areas will also be subject to very high insurance rates.
Your state insurance department can provide you with information about assigned risk insurance programs in your area.
Assigned risk pools are created by the voluntary contributions of insurance providers in a particular state.
Some states have created joint underwriting associations to handle the problem of higher risk motorists. In either case, auto insurance is available for any eligible driver, though premium rates will be quite high.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Should you add your teenager to your policy?
There’s another day you’ve seen coming for quite a while, but it’s one you were looking forward to. A birthday. Your birthday.
The one that would finally cause your insurance rate to drop because your insurance company decided that at that age, you had finally outgrown your reckless driving days.
What they don’t know about that rental car in Vegas won’t hurt them.
But you barely even got to enjoy that brief respite for your budget before your teenager started making noise about driving.
The thing is, you know very well how age affects auto insurance rates, and that a 16-year-old is considered a high risk, especially if that 16-year-old is male. That’s going to be more money out of your pocket than even before YOUR birthday!
There’s nothing you can do about your kid’s age. He’s going to have to wait for that milestone birthday just like you did. But there are some things you need to know about teen driver auto insurance that will take the sting out of adding a young, high-risk driver to your auto policy:
- The first thing to remember is, even though it’s going to cause your rates to go up, adding a teenage driver to your policy is still going to cost less than getting him a separate policy. Your age and driving experience still come into play in keeping rates low.
- Make sure your kid is doing his best in school. This is a good idea anyway so he can get into a good college, which you’ll also have to pay for. But let’s not even go there. For now, some auto insurance companies offer a discount, some as high as 25 percent, to students who have at least a B average.
- Does your teenager’s high school offer driver’s education? If so, she needs to take the class. If not, you’ll want to take her to a driving school. Many insurance companies offer cheaper auto insurance to students who have taken a formal driving course. It may only be 10 percent, but every little bit helps.
Is teen auto insurance expensive?
It can be expensive to insure a teen but there are also ways to save as we’ve mentioned above.
Is affordable auto insurance for teens possible to get?
It’s possible but you have to be proactive. The overall most important fact a teenager must learn is how to become a responsible driver and they’ll learn their basic lessons while watching their parents’ drive. A responsible, safe teen driver will eventually have the most affordable rates.
Thus, it’s imperative that parents set good examples from which their children can learn.
Following are some valuable lessons to teach teenagers that will help to lower the costs of insurance immensely:
- The Importance of Being a Good Student – Maintaining good grades and an unblemished school record reflects responsibility so teens should be fully aware of how important it is to excel academically. A 10 – 25 percent discount can be obtained for being a good student
- Traffic Violations Translate into Higher Insurance Rates – Parents should stress the significance of obeying traffic regulations. If teenagers are cited for violations like speeding and running red lights, they will be penalized by the insurance companies and insurance rates will be raised
- Forget About Purchasing Extravagant Cars – When first learning how to drive, logic says it would be best to learn in a moderate car. Just as important, however, is the more expensive the car, the more it will cost to insure it and the fact that a teen is driving it makes the risk even greater. These facts should be stressed to teens to explain away their desires to have a fancy car and if they sincerely want to learn how to drive properly, they will understand and accept that used car instead
- Comparison Shopping – Because of all the intricacies involved, it’s always best to do comparison shopping by obtaining several quotes from different insurance companies. It’s a good idea to have teens engage in this ritual with parents so they too can learn precisely what’s involved in the auto insurance process. They should be taught to look closely at the details of each policy because while they may think it’s a good idea to save money by choosing the lower rate, cheaper doesn’t always mean sufficient coverage
By far, the simplest and most cost-effective way to save is to add teenagers to the parents’ policy.
In most cases, restrictions apply to benefits given by any insurance company so once again, people are advised to obtain all the facts before purchasing any insurance.
When added to parents’ policy, teens then have a couple of years to establish their own driving records and if they do well, they will then be eligible to obtain reasonably priced insurance on their own.
Do teens need auto insurance if they have a license but no car?
If you are wondering if your child needs auto insurance if they don’t have a car, the answer relates to where you live in the US.
Some state auto insurance laws require that all licensed drivers carry auto insurance while others only require people with registered vehicles to carry auto insurance.
When exactly do minors need car insurance? If they’re going to be driving, you probably want them to be covered!
If you aren’t sure if your state has these requirements you can find out easily by visiting your DMV website or the website for the Department of Insurance.
Most sites these days have a search option so that you can do a quick search for the answers you need rather than having to search through the entire website on your own.
Specifically, you may want to compare rates for non-owner coverage.
How should parents plan for teen insurance costs?
So what steps can be taken to prepare for teen auto insurance costs? Here are a few things to consider:
- Enroll your teen in a driver ed’s program
- Start shopping around early (start now below)
- Encourage good grades
- Research the car (as we mentioned above)
- Spend a lot of time on the road
- Keep our guide handy especially the 9 tips to save (here)
Teenage Drivers: The Bottom Line
When it’s all said and done, teaching a teen to drive is just as much of an experience for them as it is for the parent. Where teenagers are learning to master the art of driving, parents are learning how to best guide their children into success.
Here’s the thing — neither parent nor teen is alone. From driver’s education courses, to structured state laws, and to parent-teen contracts, parents have a rich trove of resources available to help empower and encourage their teen’s progress.
For the teenager, practice will be one of the most important keys to success. Parents should be prepared to guide them through a variety of scenarios, while taking care to be a good role model behind the wheel.
When it comes to cars and car insurance, parents need to become a student. Shopping around and looking for discounts will be among the most powerful and money-saving tools parents can put into play.
Finally, remember this isn’t a sprint — it’s a journey. Even once your teen transitions from a permit to a license, they will always have new lessons to learn.
And with that, you’ve officially made it to the end of our Complete Teen Driver Safety Guide. You can begin applying our tips now by using our car insurance comparison tool. Enter your ZIP code HERE to begin.
- Tips For Reducing Teenager Auto Insurance Rates
- Keys to Cheap Teen Auto Insurance
- Find Cheap Rates for Teens Buying Auto Insurance
- Cheap Auto Insurance Quotes for Teens
- The Typical Auto Insurance Premium for a Teen Female Driver
- Teenage Auto Insurance During a License Suspension
- Teen Auto Insurance Requirements to Get You on the Road