For years, teenage drivers have been stereotyped as chomping at the collective bit to get their driver’s licenses, causing their parents’ car insurance rates to rise astronomically, and not always engaging in the safest driving practices.
While some of these descriptions may still hold merit, others are just not true anymore. The following teen driving trends offer an interesting — and sometimes surprising and concerning — look at the youngest drivers on the road:
Some are in no hurry to drive
Facebook and Twitter may seem filled with selfies taken by proud teens holding their shiny new driver’s licenses, but a surprising number of teenagers are in no rush to learn to drive. As CNBC notes, the percentage of teens who have their driver’s licenses has fallen significantly over the course of the past several decades. For example, in 2010, just 28 percent of 16-year-olds had licenses, compared to about 45 percent back in 1983. The reasons for this shift are varied, notes National Geographic, and may include factors like an increased use of technology to communicate. In the old days — you know, when most current teens’ parents were learning how to drive — seeing friends meant meeting at someone’s house, the park, or a local burger joint. Now, texting, instant-messaging, and Skype keep teens in virtual contact with each other, and reduces their need or desire to learn to drive.
Finances are a factor
Another reason fewer teens than ever are driving is that it’s just too expensive. Between paying for their own cars, buying gas and saving up for tires, some teens just feel overwhelmed by the financial responsibilities and decide to wait until later. Fortunately, for teens who truly need a car to get to school or an after-school job, it’s possible to find a trusty vehicle that won’t break the proverbial bank. It’s as easy as parents sitting down with their teens and browsing through the used cars on Kelley Blue Book to find budget-friendly vehicles that are also safe and dependable.
Seat belt use needs improvement
Unfortunately, teens who are taking the plunge and getting their driver’s licenses are not always following basic safety rules. As the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notes, seat belt use in teens and young adults ages 16 to 24 is right around 80 percent, which is lower than adults or senior citizens. Sadly, the decision not to buckle up is a contributing factor in fatal accidents; as of 2009, more than half of youths ages 16 to 20 killed in a car wreck were not wearing a seat belt.
Insurance premiums are high, but there is hope
Adding a teenager to their car insurance can often give parents a good case of sticker shock. As Insurance Quotes notes, having a teen driver on the family policy typically means paying about double what they were before. Fortunately, there are things that teen drivers can do to take the financial burden off their parents or themselves, if they are paying for their own insurance. For example, taking a defensive driving course, having certain safety features on a car, and getting good grades in school can often help lower the payments.