Friday, November 20, 2009
Teens and safe cars
Do you have a teen or a grandchild that is just getting a driver's license? It's an exciting time — a rite-of-passage for teens — but enough to make you frantic. Yes, the first years teenagers drive can be very risky. In fact, teen drivers have the highest death rates of any age group. In 2008, more than 4,000 teenagers (ages 13-19) died in motor vehicle crashes, and many more were left severely and permanently injured by crashes.* However, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Insurance Information Institute say there is something worried family members can do to help protect their teens — choose a safe vehicle.
Avoid vehicles that encourage reckless driving. Speeding and reckless driving often go hand in hand with teen drivers. So avoid sports cars and other vehicles with high performance features such as turbochargers as they are likely to encourage speeding. Stick with the understated "Sunday sedan."
Don't let your teen drive an unstable vehicle. Ever see a young driver make an abrupt steering maneuver when fooling around or over-correcting for an error? Those are the moves that can cause a rollover, especially in some sport utility vehicles that have a higher center of gravity. A more stable car typically might only skid or spin out.
Pick a vehicle that offers good crash protection. Structural design, size and weight, and restraint systems, including front and side air bags, all play a part in how well a vehicle protects its occupants in a crash. For more information on crashworthiness, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rates vehicles based on performance in high-speed front and side crash tests. Visit http://www.iihs.org/ratings/default.aspx for more information.
Avoid older vehicles. Newer cars are better designed for crash protection than cars of six to ten years ago. Visit the U.S. Department of Transportation at http://www.dot.gov or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety at http://www.iihs.org before you make a buying decision.
Just say Y.E.S.
If you are getting ready to hand over the keys of a brand-new or nearly new car to a teen driver and you're concerned about safety, you're not alone. So is Farmers. That's why we developed the Y.E.S. (You're Essential to Safety®) Program. This program may help to improve your teen's driving, and in many states young drivers who complete the Y.E.S. program receive a discount on their auto insurance. Also, some vehicles are more costly to insure than others, so call me before you buy. I can give you more information about safety and discounts.