Driving With Kids


Should America Have a National Licensing Age?

As of now a total of 42 states allow teenagers under 16 years to earn a learners permit. Of these states, seven offer permits to fourteen-year-olds. Laws differing by state, allowing young drivers certain privileges and restrictions such as a curfew, number of passengers allowed or licensing age. Representatives Tim Bishop, Michael Castle, and Chris Van Hollen, Jr. began the push for a national standardization of driving permits and licenses April of 2009. The legislative act, dubbed the STAND UP Act, would establish minimum federal requirements for state laws and set a 3 year time frame from enactment for states to conform to the new federal standards.

The www.saferoads4teens.org, website dedicated to this piece of legislation, gives an overview of the STANDUP ACT as follows:

  • States must meet the following requirements under the STANDUP Act:
  • Three stages of licensing – learner’s permit, intermediate stage, and full licensure – should be used
  • Age 16 should be the earliest age for entry into the learner’s permit process
  • Nighttime driving while unsupervised should be restricted during the learner’s permit and intermediate stages, until full licensure at age 18
  • Driving while using communication devices (cell phone calls, texting) should be prohibited at least until full licensure at age 18
  • Unrestricted, full licensure should occur no earlier than age 18
  • Passengers should be restricted – no more than one non-familial passenger under age 21 unless a licensed driver over age 21 is in the vehicle – until full licensure at age 18
  • Any other requirement adopted by the Secretary of Transportation, such as a minimum duration of 6 months and a minimum of 30 hours of supervised driving for a learner’s permit, may be included
  • Compliance with the requirements within the first three years after enactment will make states eligible for incentive grants
  • Three years are provided for states to meet the requirements, after which sanctions are imposed to encourage states to meet the requirements

This is a piece of legislation to keep an eye on, although it is still in the early stages it had the potential to affect drivers across the nation. For further information and updates on the Act’s happenings please visit the safe 4 roads legislative update page.

Older Drivers Get to Know Their Limits

As the baby boomers age the number of drivers 65 years or older rise on the road. Although new drivers joining the 65 + grouping drive further each year than generations before them, from 1997 – 2006 elderly drivers have experienced fewer fatal accidents than the same age groups in the past.

Although the causes for this decline are not clear the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety compiled statistics and believes it may be due in part to a greater self awareness. According to the Institute drivers are limiting their own driving more often as they age and develop physical or cognitive conditions. Some impairments that come with age include a greater limitation in vision, hearing, and flexibility as well as medication side effects.

Many elderly drivers are pushed by their friends and family to hand over their keys; which may also contribute to the decrease in elderly accidents. In these cases the older driver will need to ask family members for rides or depend upon public transit. This may be difficult when someone needs to get to and from church, the pharmacy, grocery shopping, and other places throughout the week.

Older drivers, all drivers for that matter, may attend safety driving courses to increase road safety and awareness. Although some drivers need to be taken off the road, these classes may instill the extra caution and safety tips elderly drivers need to be safe on the road. Driver-safety classes are offered by AARP, AAA, and other organizations touching on defensive driving, new traffic laws, and safety tips. A new bill passed through the Massachusetts House of Representatives last week and is currently pending in the Massachusetts Senate that would require elderly drivers to take a vision exam every few years to renew their license. Measures such as these will increase everyone’s safety on the road.

Dangers of Texting and Driving

It’s amazing what  younger generations can accomplish with a few clicks of their cell phone. From making plans for the evening and shopping online to ordering a meal to go, texting and smart phones make life more convenient. While the novelty and ease of communication via texting is widely used, the dangers of this activity behind the wheel must be taken seriously. Many may say something to the effect of, “What? It’s not like I’m drinking and driving!” Which is the truth, the reaction time of someone with a blood alcohol content of .08 reacts four times more quickly than when they are texting sober according to a study by CarandDriver. While 17 states ban texting and driving and 7 states ban complete hand held cell use behind the wheel the temptation may still remain.

When the dangers are this evident that even driving drunk may be safer than texting should make someone think twice before picking up that cell phone behind the wheel. If you struggle with the temptation to check that e-mail or text here are a few ways to avoid it:

  • Give yourself a reality check and watch this video the Today Show featured in a texting & driving segment.
  • If you’re trying to find an address, pull over and park before checking your phone.
  • If you have someone in the car with you ask them to help you break the texting habit.
  • Place your cell phone out of reach.
  • If this isn’t enough to stop you, turn your cell phone off.

Teaching Teens to Drive

When a teenager first learns to drive it can be just as nerve wrecking for parents as the new driver. Some parents are terrified for their son or daughter’s safety driving on the road, others should be more worried about their child’s parallel parking. When readying your teenager for their drivers test it’s important to have more than a few lessons to practice the necessary skills.

For the first couple lessons find a location without many cars, light posts or other obstacles – like a vacant parking lot. When your teen sits behind the wheel be sure to give precise and simple instructions far enough ahead of time they will be able to safely respond. Also avoid overloading your new driver with too much information. Allow enough time for your son or daughter to absorb information in segmented lessons. Teaching ninety degree turns, parallel parking, lane changes, and driving in reverse all in the same day will most likely confuse and stress your teen. Give one lesson on each driving skill, and keep practicing until they feel comfortable with each of the skills.

Above all set an example for your new teen driver:

If you run red and yellow lights, speed down the highway at 75 MPH, weave in and out of traffic, take chances on the road, ride the bumper of the car in front of you, scream at other drivers, or exhibit other signs of road rage, you’re showing your teen that the rules don’t count—and this can be fatal.   – teendriving.com

Although teaching a new driver can be nerve wrecking, it can also be rewarding. When your teenager passes his or her driver’s exam he or she will see it as an entryway to adulthood. With a license it’s important to remind them driving comes with responsibility, and your trust. If your teen exhibits responsible driving reward them. If your teen exhibits dangerous and/or unlawful driving, you will need to negotiate their driving terms. As a parent you have the ultimate say in your child’s driving, ensure they can handle their new responsibility before handing over the car keys.

Protecting Newly Licensed Teens

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death in U.S. teens today. According to the CDC in 2007 more than 4,200 teens ages 15 – 19 were killd and over 40,000 teens were treated in the emergency room due to auto accidents. Teens most at risk of being involved in an accident include: males, teen drivers with teen passangers, and newly licensed.

Most parents recognize the dangers new teen drivers face and take preventative measures to ensure their safety. Some parents don’t allow their children to drive past dark or drive with passangers. Other parents may enroll their teen in a Graduated Driver Licensing Course. This course allows the teen to earn a permit, then a drivers license temporarily restricting unsupervised driving, and lastly a full license. Although every parent will take different measures to protect their newly licensed teen, any form of guidance and training may just save their life.

National Teen Driving Safety Week

This October 18th – 24th has been designated as National Teen Driver Safety Week. Celebrated every October Congress established this week to combat teen deaths associated with driving. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention auto accidents are the leading cause of fatalities in teenagers, claiming 1 in 3 deaths from this age group.

This year’s focus is Ride Like a Friend, encouraging teenagers to be good passangers. The Ride Like a Friend website hopes to take this week one step further, motivating teens to start their own local safety campaign. Congress believes this week will encourage teens to become safer drivers thorughout the year.

Startling Statistics on High Risk Teen Drivers in MA, and Ways to Lower their Premiums

If you’re a parent, you know the feeling. You’re daughter or son has just received his/her driver’s license and is now legal to drive. While this is a joyous time for them, it doesn’t have to be you’re worst nightmare. Being aware of these facts and informing our teens of the dangers of the road may be half the battle.

I stumbled across an article from autoinsurancetips.com that had some startling facts about teen drivers here in the Bay Sate.

  • Teens receive the highest number of traffic violation in the state
  • MA teens are involved in more fatal night time crashes than any other group of drivers
  • MA teens (16&17) are 4x more likely get in a crash

Parents need to be aware of the facts and teens need to be educated. It’s hard to think of the repercussions of speeding when you’re late to meet your friends for 9:05 movie. But traffic violations raise a driver’s SDIP, and higher SDIP’s mean higher policy premiums.

However, despite being considered higher risk drivers, there are ways to lower their premiums.

  • Driver Education- Having teens enroll in driver’s education classes is a way to reduce insurance costs. Teens that have completed this training are considered to be safer drivers.
  • GPA- Teens with a high Grade Point Average are considered more responsible and therefore offer discounts to the driver
  • The vehicle- While your teen would probably love to drive a new luxury car, they may not love the higher premium. Older cars are typically less expensive to insure

Teens get a bad rap with insurance companies. Talk with your teen about the responsibilities they take on when getting behind the wheel. And who knows, in 2020, teens here in the Bay state could be the group 4x LESS likely to get in a crash.

About CPA Staff

Mike is in charge of the 'colors and shapes' of Next Generation Insurance Group as well as the front-end development of the site (like this page). A long time standing deck enthusiast, Mike does his best work up-right and rocking out, with the occasional riff of air guitar, to heavy metal bands. Mike attended Northern Kentucky University, is a founding member of Team Do Stuff and a skilled home brewer.
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