How did it happen?  Your sweet little son, the very one who picked you handfuls of dandelions and smeared your face with chocolate ice cream kisses is suddenly standing before you demanding the car keys, donned with a flat-billed hat and a rather petulant look on his acne-strewn face.  “Mom, the movie starts in twenty minutes!” his teenage voice cracks with impatience.

Yep, driving is no doubt a rite of passage for most American teenagers.  Unfortunately, it also happens to coincide with a lot of other teen strife; hormones, namely.  So what emerges from this dangerous brew of angst, bodily changes and authoritative rebellion can sometimes be some unrecognizable creature, not the angelic infant you sweated over and borne into this world.  Be prepared for this inevitable change, but be smart, too.

Teen Drivers.  Ahhhh!

Are there two more incongruous words in the English dictionary that could be strewn together and create more terror in a parent’s trembling heart? Probably not.  Well, maybe a couple others, but let’s not go there. But if you’re the type of parent who plans early and often, you too can manage through the teen driving experience, including getting the proper insurance to cover those precious teens.

When speaking with your insurance agent, be prepared to face the facts that your insurance will automatically increase, a lot. A little sobering tidbit that you might want to sit down and discuss with your new driver is that statistically speaking, driving-related accidents are the number one cause of death among teens.

Number one; Death by disease or random accidents pale in comparison to the risk of that ten minute drive to school or the movies, or wherever else they seem to always need to go.  That is the sole reason that insurance rates climb so drastically when a teenager is put on a policy.  But there are some steps you and your teen can make to help keep the costs down and the driving privileges up.

  • Keep up the good grades: Insurance companies will use your student’s report card as a basis for insurance discounts.  If your son or daughter can maintain at least a B average, the savings will be much greater than a C or lower.  Being a good student has its benefits.
  • Fast Car: No doubt about it, your son won’t look as cool in the dusty, faux wood-paneled Suburban as he envisioned himself looking in that brand new, bright yellow Mustang.  But the old family car is of sturdy-construction, reliable and best of all, won’t raise those already skyrocketing insurance rates.
  • Put in a little extra effort: Some insurance companies will give your teen a little extra discount if they complete a safe-driving program or watch a video on safe driving and take a test afterwards.  Make sure that you are also using a reputable driving school for the novice driver.  The safer your new driver, the less the risk and the better the driving record.  All these add up to bigger savings with your premiums.
  • Get the largest deductible:  This change will help lower your monthly premiums.  While talking to your agent make sure to increase your collision and comprehensive coverage.  As we know, teens constitute the highest risk group.  So accidents, big or small, are a distinct possibility.

It’s near the end of the day, you’re exhausted. After opening the refrigerator door you mourn aloud that there’s no milk.  Your teenage daughter practically jumps out of her skin and announces that she will go and get that necessary gallon of milk. All by herself. After all, it’s been almost sixteen minutes since she passed her driver’s test and can officially drive on her own.

You tell her to take the route through the neighborhood and to avoid highways at all costs (it doesn’t matter that the nearest freeway is a good fifteen miles away) you’re taking no risks. You tell her to call you when you get to the store and right before she leaves—but not while she’s driving! Despite her frequent eye-rolls and huffs of exasperation, you hand over those keys hesitatingly, feeling the transfer of weight from your hand to your daughter’s.  Your stomach clenches when she grabs her purse and dashes out the door.

After a brief silent prayer you watch the car disappear down the driveway. Take a deep breath. This too, is all a part of parenting. Don’t forget your daughter is smart, savvy and above all, safe. Remember, you raised her to be that way.

Good job, mom and dad!

Mark McCrell is an auto aficionado who loves to drive his 1974 Buick LaSabre around town and write about all things auto. He currently blogs for the website AutoInsuranceQuotes, which specializes in auto insurance tips.