New Teenage Drivers

Turning 17 and getting a car is one of the most anticipated rites of passage teenagers everywhere look forward to. They crave the new found freedom, the ability to escape away from mom and dad, and the ability to show their new cars off to their friends.

Teen Driving Statistics

It’s a sobering fact that automobile accidents are the leading cause of death in teenagers in this country. Approximately 6,000 die and another 300,000 are seriously injured each year nationwide. Teens are involved in accidents for many reasons, but most often because of overconfidence, driving over the speed limit, operating a vehicle while intoxicated, distraction, and inexperience. Making matters worse, seat belt use among teenagers is the lowest of any age group.

Each year, teenagers around the country account for approximately 15% of all automobile crashes, but in Indiana that figure is nearly 25%. Research conducted by the Indiana Transportation Institute found that car accidents are now the number one killer of teens in this country, and while crashes only account for approximately 2% of deaths nationwide, they are responsible for nearly 70% of all teen injury deaths. All the factors listed above – speed, distraction, intoxication, and lack of seatbelt use – combine to make these statistics so shockingly high.

Teen Driver Education

Taking these issues into careful consideration, Indiana is one of several states to have implemented so-called ‘Graduated Driver Licensing’ (GDL) laws. GDL is designed to educate teenage drivers in stages over an extended period of time in a semi-insulated environment that minimizes risk to the new driver, as well as to other motorists. Under this process, a teen progresses through a permit phase, where he or she is allowed to practice with supervision, to a provisional or probationary phase which allows for independent driving with restrictions. If this stage is completed successfully, the teen then goes on to earn full, unrestricted driving privileges. The fundamental aspect to educating young drivers through the GDL method is practice. As parents of new drivers, we must take it upon ourselves to spend as much time as possible helping our sons and daughters practice their skills behind the wheel.

Under the requirements of the Graduated Driver Licensing program, new drivers must:

  • not be on the road between midnight and 5:00AM;
  • not have more than one occupant in the vehicle who is under the age of 21 and not an immediate family member;
  • not use a cell phone (including hands-free devices) or any other portable electronic device when operating a vehicle;
  • both driver and all passengers must wear seat belts at all times in the car.

Once the individual has completed at least six months of driving without an accident or citation, and is at least 16 years of age, he or she may apply for an unrestricted Indiana state driver’s license.

Indiana Fraud Laws and Auto Insurance

Considering the fact that the teen driver is far more likely to be involved in an accident than their more mature adult counterparts, there will also be a significantly higher priced premium charged when the new driver is added to the parent’s auto insurance policy.

Even though the new teen driver is using mom and dad’s car regularly, there is often the temptation to ‘forget’ to add junior to the auto insurance policy in order to save a couple bucks. At Killingbeck Insurance & Tax Preparation, we strongly caution you against this practice. The state of Indiana has enacted a number of very specific fraud laws that allow an insurance company to deny a claim outright if it is found that the driver is an unauthorized user. Additionally, the Indiana Attorney General has the ability to penalize the policyholder with costly fines that run into the thousands of dollars.

Insurance-Friendly Cars for Teens

So you've made the decision to buy your kid their first car. The title will be in your name, and the insurance will be lawfully added to your personal policy. When deciding what make and model you want to purchase, be sure to consider the impact the car will have on your auto insurance. Most insurance companies surcharge teen drivers in the following areas:

  • liability
  • comprehensive (theft)
  • collision (damage caused to the vehicle in an accident)

You can avoid some of these charges by purchasing an older model, so-called ‘lower value’ vehicle that does not require comprehensive or collision coverage, so that the premium will be substantially less than a newer model, which will require full coverage.

At Killingbeck Insurance & Tax Preparation, we represent many different companies and can help you make that all-important decision to buy your son or daughter their first car. Give us a call at (765) 452-8000. You’ll be glad you did.