Having a teen driver is great but at the same time, it’s not so great.
I love having an extra driver in the house, and after 10 months behind the wheel, she’s still willing to pick up her siblings and run errands for me. It’s a wonderful thing. But it’s definitely an expensive liability.
Just a few months after she got her license, she had a little run in with the stone wall at the end of our driveway. A few weeks after that, she had her first fender bender. No one was hurt, but the old minivan she’s driving looks like a whale took a bite out of it. The other car must have sustained some damage too, because we just got our semi annual insurance bill and it’s gone up significantly. Apparently, she’s lost the “good grades, good driver” perk.
And soon the twins will be behind the wheel. They can get their learner’s permits in June and will be taking driver’s ed this summer. I can’t fathom the insurance bill once they start driving. Luckily, it will probably take a lifetime for them both to get the 60 hours required behind the wheel before they can get their license.
Cost aside, there’s also the worry that goes along with having teen drivers. The worry that they are driving too fast, that they are texting while driving, that something will happen to them. According to the CDC, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for US teens. So there’s just cause for all the worry.
Recently I got an email about a new technology from Chevrolet called “Teen Driver.” It’s a feature available in the 2016 Malibu that provides parents with a “digital report card” of their teen’s driving habits. It records how far they’ve driven, their fastest speed, how many times safety features are activated, and it mutes the music if the seat belts are unbuckled. Sounds awesome if you want to buy your kids a new Chevy Malibu. Which I don’t.
My co-worker told me about another option — Hum by Verizon. The device plugs into almost any car and allows you to see where the car is at any time and provides boundary and speed alerts. There’s a fee that I guess they’d tag onto my already exorbitant Verizon wireless bill. And I’m not sure how this prevents accidents. I’m not sure parental spying is the answer.
I like another friend’s tactic the best. She takes her kids to her insurance agent for a talk before they can start driving. He gives them the lowdown on what type of accidents they are most likely to have, and what will happen if they do. He basically scares the crap out of them. Then she tells them that if they get into an accident, they are responsible for the increased insurance cost.
I know that my daughter’s fender bender scared her pretty bad. I think she’s a better driver as a result. I just wish I’d made the bargain that she had to pay the increased insurance cost, but it’s never too late. One thing is for sure, my kids are going to need good jobs this summer, because there’s no way we can cover the cost of three teenage drivers.
FranklyStein is a blog by Chesapeake Family Magazine editor Betsy Stein, who lives in Catonsville with her husband, Chris, and four children, Maggie, 17, Lilly, 15, Adam, 15, and Jonah, 11.