A number of reports, including one from Oregon State Public Interest Research Group have found that more and more teens are waiting to get their drivers license. If the research is correct, it appears that lining up at the DMV on your 16th birthday is no longer the rite of passage that it once was.
The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute was able to put a number on lack of interest by teen drivers. In 2010, only 28 percent of 16-year olds had a license, this compares with 44 percent who had a license in 1980. While these numbers don’t take into account the fact that some states have changed licensing laws, older drivers are waiting as well.
The number of 17-year olds with a license has dropped from 66 percent to 45 percent in 2010. The tend continues with 18-year olds, 75 percent had a license in 1980 with only 61 percent of todays teens driving.
Why They Are Waiting
There seems to be a number of reasons that teens are waiting. Social media, texting and the Internet seem to be big factors. They have so many ways to keep in touch with their friends and peers that driving over to their friend’s house is not as important.
Another factor is the economic downtown. The cost of buying a car is out of range for many young drivers as is maintaining and insuring it. Insuring a vehicle, especially for a young driver can be extremely expensive.
Insurers attach a surcharge to a new driver no matter how old they are but teen drivers will see a bigger charge, often in the 20-80 percent range. Research has shown that teen drivers are more likely to engage in risky behavior resulting in higher premiums.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2010, seven teens ages 16 to 19 died every day from motor vehicle injuries. Teen drivers ages 16 to 19 per mile are three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash.
When it comes to newly minted teen drivers insurers will ding them for being both an inexperienced driver as well as a teen. While the ratings will differ depending on the insurer, surcharges tend to drop a bit each year and drop off dramatically around age 25.
All of this means that for every year your teen holds off driving, you will be saving hundreds and possibly thousands of dollars.
Keeping a Teens Insurance Bill Down
If your teen is set on driving there are things you can do to help keep the premiums as reasonable as possible. Here are a few tips:
Good Student Discount – Push your teen to maintain at least a B average and then ask your insurer for a good student discount. The discount rate will vary but look for 10 to 15 percent.
Defense Driving Course – Some insurers will offer you a discount if a teen, or any driver for that matter completes a defensive driving course. Check with your insurer about which courses qualify.
Old Car – Put your teen driver in the oldest car that you have. In some cases it may make sense to buy them their own older vehicle. The newer, more expensive the car is, the more expensive your teen’s insurance will be.