19 - 2011

Teen Drivers: Saving Money and Safety!

The following is a guest post by Melissa Cameron.

When my daughter, Rose, was first born I had envisioned her first steps, the first time she would be able to ride her bike without any help and her first time driving. I could not imagine any of them entirely and as each occurred, as she took her initial steps and found her balance while riding her bike, the thrills were palpable. With two down and one more to go, I found my fear mounting, especially as my daughter neared and then reached her sixteenth birthday.

My daughter has many admirable qualities. She’s certainly smart and quite mature for her age. But with those attributes comes a streak of over confidence and a bit of stubbornness. She has always been venturesome and independent, and Rose has been looking forward to getting her driver’s license for quite some time.

Driving Her Car

Rose already has her own car. It was a kind gift from her grandmother. Rose’s grandmother presented her with a Mazda Miata in a color that is reflective of her name—red. It’s been sitting in our driveway waiting for my daughter to get behind the wheel. We’ve run it and she’s been a passenger but she really can’t wait to get behind the wheel, pump the gas pedal and move down the highway.

Rose has enjoyed cleaning her new-to-her car and imagining driving down the road. She’s certainly sat behind the steering wheel hundreds of times, adjusting the seat, fine tuning her side and rearview mirrors and programming her radio again and again. It’s been a big buildup to the day she finally gets to put the car in drive and back out of the driveway. The question is does she understand the serious nature of what she’s about to do?

Money, Stats and Teen Driving

It’s not as if we haven’t talked about how serious getting your license is. Along with the responsibility and accountability, there’s insurance, fuel and repairs. Plus, there are various statistics related to teen driving from which you cannot escape. Here’s what we found when we visited the GEICO website.

  • Every year over 74,000 young people are injured or die when they don’t have on their seatbelts.
  • One in five 16-year-old drivers will be in an accident in their first year of driving.
  • When it comes to being in a fatal accident, a 16-year-old driver is 20 times more likely to be killed than an adult.

Of course, you’ve got to wonder can any young person really appreciate these statistics? Sure Rose heard them, but does she really think that they pertain to her?

There are other frightening facts that are related to learning from direct experience. The only way to learn to drive at night, in bad weather or in other challenging traffic situations is by doing it. As an example, the only way for one to know how to drive in snow is by driving in the snow.

How Much Does it Cost?

After reviewing the stats above, it certainly makes sense that insurance costs for teens are high. There are ways to cut back on insurance costs such as good student discounts, driver’s education programs and an accident-free driver’s record. By the way, one way to get a less expensive rate is by limiting your teen’s time behind the wheel. That’s not appealing to Rose, but it is the prudent thing to do.

Other costs include maintenance, fuel and car inspection and registration. There’s a lot to pay for and a lot of which a teen needs keep track. Of course, even the most responsible teen can have a tough time keeping everything in order.

Making sure the oil and filter, air filter and other routine maintenance items are attended to in a timely manner is no easy task. This is especially true for a teen who has never had to deal with their own car in the past.

I’ve prepared by reading her car’s maintenance manual and researching auto insurance costs. But I’m also wondering, as the day draws near that my daughter will be taking to the road in her Mazda, if there’s more that I can do?

What do You Think?

I’m wondering what it’s like for others who have teen drivers? What have you done or what are you planning on doing? Am I on the right track? Let me know.

About the Author

Melissa Cameron, who lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband, Dave, and children, Rose and Matt, works as a successful freelance writer. She loves researching the history of the area and also enjoys the innovative Austin Film Festival each year.  Melissa writes on a range of subjects, from teen life to insurance to film. As a writer, she finds that she learns a wealth of information; just recently she discovered a lot about health insurance by doing a piece on family health insurance quotes and coverage. She loves seeing the great, natural beauty of the U.S. Recently she and family ventured to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.

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