Are you Distracting Your Teen Driver?
Fifty-three percent of teens who reported talking on a phone while driving were talking with their parents. It’s a dilemma for the parents because you want to know that your child has arrived safely at their destination but you don’t want to call him or her while they are behind the wheel.
Kristy Kuykendall, Personal Insurance Consultant at Insurance Associates, a Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC Company, has a 15 year old daughter that will turn 16 in December so this will become a reality for her all too soon. Kristy said they have already begun discussing safe driving habits at home and have created a contract that she and her daughter will both sign that outlines the driving rules. A few of these rules are: Calling when you arrive somewhere, being home at a certain time, and absolutely no drinking and driving.
The statistics on distracted driving are very scary. In 2011 cell phone use was the cause of 21 percent of fatal crashes that involved distracted teen drivers. It seems as though the proportion of teens who report using cell phones while driving keeps rising. In 2009, 43 percent of 16 and 17 year-olds talked on cell phones while driving, but now according to a 2013 study, 86 percent of 11th and 12th graders reported using phones while behind the wheel., 
So what’s the advice for parents then?
- Pick a safe car
- You and your child should choose a car that is easy to drive and would offer protection in the event of a crash.
- Understand your state’s teenage driving laws
- Many states have specific rules and restrictions on teenage driving such as a curfew time. Make sure you are aware of these and review them.
- Have your teen take a driver’s education class & enroll them in a safe driving program
- Most states offer a safe driving program; in fact in several states it is required. Ensure your teen enrolls in this program because the more practice they have, the more confident both you and they will be when they get behind the wheel. Additionally, another benefit of the driver’s education course is that it may be viewed more favorably by insurers.
- Talk with your teen about the dangers of combining alcohol and drugs with driving as well as not driving while being distracted
- Accidents occur because a teen was driving while drinking, using a cell phone, or being distracted by friends who were in the car. Make sure not only your teen, but also their friends know your rules.
Kristy’s greatest advice for all parents (and sometimes the hardest) is to set a good example in front of your children while behind the wheel. Kristy says, “Sometimes I will find myself texting at a stoplight or looking down at my phone while sitting in traffic and I have to remember to stop doing that. The first and most important step with my daughter in the car is to set a good example. I have to realize my own faults and work to correct those quickly.”
For more information this and advice on how to handle your own Personal Insurance Portfolio please contact me at 703.352.8214 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Information about the Author: Kristy started her career as an Insurance agent for USAA and moved into the Independent Insurance market. She has extensive knowledge of the Insurance marketplace and has been working with High Net Worth Personal Lines clients for several years. Kristy’s strength is in understanding the unique needs of her clients and ensuring that they are able to maintain the highest quality coverage. She does this by delivering exceptional products and services to business owners and individuals around the world. She has earned the designation Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) and Certified Insurance Service Representative (CISR). Kristy is excited to represent our Personal Lines Department at IA, a Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC Company and is based in our Fairfax Office.
 National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Distracted Driving 2011. http://www.distraction.gov/download/811737.pdf
 Pew Research. Teens and Distracted Driving. http://www.pewinternet.org/2009/11/16/teens-and-distracted-driving/.
 New Study Finds Teens Have Risky Definitions of “Safe Driving.” http://sadd.org/press/risky_driving.htm