My child is turning 16, what do I do?

If you have a child who just recently turned 16, you’ve probably got a million things running through your mind. First and foremost, breathe. By taking the proper precautions and with the right knowledge, you can help to ensure that your child is as safe as possible as they take to the roads and that their new ride isn’t breaking the bank in terms of coverage.

Tip 1: Know your cars

Size- Many parents fall victim to the myth that a bigger car is safer for their child to drive. It’s actually the opposite. SUVs and trucks have a higher center-of-gravity, which causes a higher risk of rollover. This means they are less stable than traditional mid-sized sedans for inexperienced drivers.

Age- Think of the age of a car as related to insurance costs as a U-curve. Cars that are older than your child run the risk of lacking safety features such as airbags, anti-lock brakes, and roll stability control, raising insurance rates. Cars that are fresh off the lot will (most likely) cost more to insure. When buying for a new driver, you want to hit that sweet spot in the middle. However…

Make and Model- The make and model of a car have more to do with your insurance rates than the age of the car. Do your research when you’re car shopping, and get a rate quote for the options you’re considering.

Tip 2: Know your insurance

Assign the car- Some insurance carriers will allow you to assign a car to a specific driver. This can prevent the most expensive person to insure (the teen) from being automatically assigned to the most expensive car to insure (your new Audi). Some insurance companies do not assign drivers to specific cars, and will lump all the household drivers and cars. Make sure you know what your carrier is offering.

Discounts- Many insurance companies allow teens to qualify for discounts in the form of good grades, driver safety classes, and the like. Again, check with your insurance company to see what discounts could be available for you.

Tip 3: Educate your driver

We’re sure this can go without saying, but the best way to protect your child is to help them protect themselves.

Passengers- Emphasize the importance of following your state’s rules on the number of passengers allowed- the state of Tennessee allows only one unlicensed passenger to ride with a 16-year-old driver unless they are siblings. In 2012, 54% of teenager passenger deaths occurred in a vehicle driven by another teenager.

Distracted driving- Whether it’s texting, talking, or changing the radio, distracted driving is lethal to all drivers- especially inexperienced ones. Among passenger vehicle drivers ages 16 to 19 in 2012, 48% were involved in single vehicle crashes. While you can’t control other drivers on the road, you can remain aware of your surroundings and you can always control your own driving actions.

Speed- Speed is a significant factor in many motor-related injuries and deaths. It is important to explain the dangers of speeding on normal days, and especially in rain, sleet, snow, or fog. This is why we also recommend against buying teens a car with anything higher than a four-cylinder engine or average horsepower.

Ultimately, your teen driving will save you lots of time of chauffeuring and it’s fun to watch your children grow into independent people. With just a few tips, you can save yourself money and protect your child in the process.