CHICAGO- Summer will be here before too long, and with it comes graduation parties, road trips, and outdoor activities. This once was the time of year that, as teenagers and young adults, we looked forward to the most, when the beckoning call of the open road was synonymous with freedom and fun.
Now, if you’re like many parents, your teen is either beginning to drive or has just started driving in the last year or two. The ‘roar of the engines’ that was music to our ears years ago has transformed into the steady drone of worry and concern. In order to balance our protective concerns with the reality of youth, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) is encouraging parents to talk to their teen drivers about safe driving habits before the summer begins.
“As a parent of teenagers myself, it’s always a little worrisome every time they get in the car and drive off. Like many parents, I hope my kids are practicing good driving habits,” said Bob Passmore, PCI’s assistant vice president of personal lines policy. According to the National Safety Council, car crashes are the number one killer of teens, with more than half of the teens killed in car crashes found not to have been wearing a seatbelt.
“Sound safety practices are our number one concern, but the rise in the number of severe accidents nationwide is also putting pressure on insurance costs,” added Passmore. Enhanced safety technology has made automobiles drastically safer for passengers. However, we are now witnessing a significant increase in auto accidents and highway fatalities across the nation. NHTSA found that highway fatalities increased by more than 9% in the first nine months of January 2015 as compared to the same period in 2014.
PCI analysis has identified a number of factors that could be contributing to the rise in accidents, including distracted driving, increase in traffic congestion, and changing demographics - such as teen drivers.
“The numbers are alarming, and in several states and on a national level insurers are working with policymakers, industry leaders, and consumers to promote driver safety and enact highway safety laws to protect motorists and pedestrians, and keep insurance costs stable. However, it’s also up to all of us to practice safe driving habits, and up to us to teach their teenagers to do the same,” said Passmore.
PCI’s 7 Driving Safety Tips:
Whether you’re taking a summer get-away or just running errands around town, we encourage you to buckle up, drive safely and try to be prepared for those who may not. Seat belts save lives and help prevent injuries. Also, make sure kids are in the proper car or booster seats.
Plan ahead and allow extra travel time. With more people on the roads, often driving in unfamiliar territory, the potential for a traffic crash increases. We encourage motorists to plan their routes in advance when traveling to new destinations, be patient, and allow for extra travel time.
Observe speed limits, including lower speeds in work zones. Stay focused on the road and aware of changing traffic patterns caused by construction. Please be cautious of the construction workers themselves, who are often in close proximity to the highway — and at great risk.
Avoid distracted driving. When the entire family is traveling in the car, the opportunity for distraction is multiplied. Remember to put the phone down, and never text while driving. Be careful when eating on the run, as lunch can be just as distracting as a cell phone. Buckle up or secure pets in the back of the car.
Beware of crash taxes. Although they have been banned or limited in several states, many cities, counties and fire districts will charge the at-fault driver for emergency response costs in an auto accident. Fees range from $100 to over $2,000 for response services. The average cost is $200. A typical insurance policy does not cover the cost of a fire truck responding to an accident.
Have a plan for roadside assistance. If an accident occurs, be wary of unscrupulous towing companies. Have the phone number for your insurer or a roadside assistance program ready so you know who to call. Some towing companies take advantage of drivers after an accident and you could find yourself facing excessive fees or complications recovering your car from the tow yard.
Update your proof of insurance. Before hitting the road, make sure to replace any expired insurance identification cards in the event you need to prove you have insurance during a traffic stop.
Follow us on Twitter @PCIAA and #HeadsUp or #SummerSafety for the latest information on auto accident factors contributing to rising costs to consumers and other driving safety tips throughout the summer.
Learn More: Auto Safety and Consumer Costs