Children dream about it for years. Parents fear it almost from birth. Your child is sixteen and can get a driver's license, but does that mean your child should get a driver's licence?
The Potential Risks
According to a July 2005 Dateline NBC article, sixteen year old drivers crash at a rate that is 1.5 times higher than seventeen year old drivers.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) studied the development of teen brains, and made a startling discovery that could explain why. The NIH study, which was released in April 2009, found that the part of the brain that regulates risk-taking and impulse control were not fully developed in teens.
Because both risk-taking and impulse control are critical to driving, the developing teen brain may not be fully prepared to take on the challenge to drive.
How to Keep Your Teen Safe
If you and your teen decide that they should get their license, how do you keep them safe?
Ride with Your Teen
First, ride with your teen often. Monitor their behavior behind the wheel, and help them recognize safe and unsafe behavior. Your child may claim that he or she only makes mistakes when you are in the car, but your teen may not be aware that they are making the same driving errors when you are not in the vehicle.
No Cell Phones
Second, absolutely no cell phone use or text messaging while driving--even with a "hands free" phone.
Allow Only One Passenger
Third, limit your child's passenger count to one. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the chances of a crash by a sixteen or seventeen year old driver double with two friends in the vehicle, and quadruple with three or more.
Consider Waiting a Few Years
Finally, no one has the right to drive at the age of 16. Drivers who are eighteen years old, when they first learn to drive, have significantly fewer accidents than those who are sixteen years old. You know your child, and if you are unsure about a driver's license at this time, there is no harm in waiting.
When you and your teenager do decide it is time to get a driver's license, your insurance costs are likely to go up. Fill out the form at the top of the page and find cheaper auto insurance. Some car insurance companies are more "teen friendly" than others, so shop around and be sure to ask about good student discounts.
Ryan Hurlbert lives and works in the Pacific Northwest. As an insurance agent, he produced and presented educational seminars on various topics from insurance basics to strategies for dealing with teen drivers. He has researched and produced marketing materials in the insurance, auto, and financial industries. Ryan majored in business and received his Bachelor of Science degree from Portland State University.
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