Learning how to drive is an amazing rite of passage for teenagers — but it is probably the most nerve-wracking time in a parent’s life. If your teen is reaching driving age, take a deep breath and don’t freak out. Here are some tips and tricks to help make this transition mostly painless, both for you and for your wallet.
Start With Driver’s Ed
No one wants to put their teenager behind the wheel without any experience. Your first step shouldn’t be to hand them the keys — it should be to send them to a driver’s ed class. It teaches them how to drive, explains the rules of the road and shows how to drive safely.
Not only does this help you put your mind at ease, but it also helps to keep your insurance premiums lower. Many insurance companies offer incentives and lower insurance prices for teen drivers. This is a great way to protect your wallet, in addition to protecting your teenage driver. Insurance for teenagers isn’t cheap, which is why this is such a great incentive.
Say No to Luxury Cars
The only thing more expensive than car insurance for a teenage driver is getting them their first car. Your teen might want a snazzy or expensive car, but it won’t be a good thing for your car insurance. Expensive cars cost more to insure, no matter how old the driver is.
You don’t have to relegate them to an old beater — that’ll get expensive when it comes to repairs — but an older but reliable vehicle is usually a better choice for a teen’s first car.
If you can swing it, skip the car entirely — at least until your child graduates from high school. This isn’t something we’re saying to keep your teen from driving, but something that can keep your insurance premiums down. If you don’t have an extra car to insure with your teen as the primary driver, your insurance premiums will be lower. Secondary drivers always cost less than primary drivers, regardless of age.
One Household Policy
If you’re the one who’s going to be paying the insurance premiums, it’s a good idea to keep your teen on your insurance policy as long as possible. Not only will it make paying bills easier since you won’t have one extra bill to keep track of, but it can help keep your overall premiums lower.
Insurance companies base your policy on the driving records of each driver on the policy. If you and your significant other have good records, putting your teen on your policy will keep your overall cost down. That might be until they turn 18, or even longer if your teen is in college.
The next step might be the hardest — be patient with your new driver. You didn’t learn how to drive overnight, and you can’t expect your teen to learn immediately, either. Be patient with them and whatever you do, don’t freak out while they’re behind the wheel. Trust me on this one. My first accident was due to the adult in the passenger seat yelling at me while I was pulling into a parking space. He yelled, and I hit the accelerator instead of the brake and ended up losing a fight with a bollard.
You’re probably already dreading your teen’s first time behind the wheel, but if you’re patient and smart with your insurance decisions, you won’t have too much to worry about.
Scott Huntington is a writer and car fanatic from Harrisburg, PA. Check out his site offthethrottle.com or follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington.