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News: 2012 Press Release

For Release: May 21, 2012
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, Driver Safety Experts Highlight Teen Driver Safety Issues
Summer Driving Season Known as 100 Deadliest Days for Teen Drivers

Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones today joined driver safety experts, parents, and students at McClatchy High School in Sacramento to urge teen drivers to stay safe behind the wheel and avoid risks that can lead to auto accidents. According to traffic safety experts, the summer driving season between Memorial Day and Labor Day represents the deadliest 100 days for teen drivers.

"While the summer months represent a break for most teens from school, they also represent one of the deadliest time periods for teens drivers, who have the highest percentage of auto crashes of any drivers," Commissioner Jones said. "That's why it is important for parents, teachers-all of us -to regularly take the time and educate our kids about becoming safe drivers and learning crash avoidance techniques."

Today's news conference was part of a series of teen driver safety events happening at the school to raise awareness of teen driver safety issues. Also speaking at the event was Dr. Richard Harkness, the CEO of ADEPT Driver, which created teenSMART, a program aimed at significantly reducing automobile crashes among teen drivers and keeping their premiums lower. Additionally, Peter DeGolia, a father of a student who used a program to improve their driving skills, and Peter Lambert, Principal of McClatchy High School also participated.

"We used a scientific model to identify the leading causes of teen driver car crashes," said Dr. Harkness. "teenSMART specifically addresses these causes through the use of realistic and challenging computer-based driving simulations that improve driver skills and help teens avoid risk when they are driving. We are proud to partner with leading insurance companies that offer discounts for teens who complete the teenSMART program due to its proven crash reduction."

The Commissioner also reminds parents that the DMV requires that all drivers take financial responsibility for owning and operating an auto in California. While auto insurance cannot prevent an accident, it can help protect drivers from financial hardship when the driver is at fault and injures another individual or their property in an accident. All drivers need auto insurance, and so Commissioner Jones encourages teen drivers and their parents to carefully consider important questions like:

  • Do you have the money to pay for repairs if your car is damaged or vandalized?
  • Do you have the money to cover towing and car rental if you total your car?
  • What would you do if your car was stolen? Would you be able to buy another car if the police didn't recover your car? Would you be able to pay off your car loan?
  • Do you have the financial certainty that you can pay for any accident that was your fault?
  • Would you rather pay a small deductible or the entire amount of damage to your car?
  • How would you feel if your friends were injured in your car and could not afford medical treatment?

Commissioner Jones also urged teen drivers to closely observe the following safe-driving guidelines to avoid becoming another fatality statistic:

  • Drive at the speed limit and adjust your speed down for night driving and road conditions such as rain, snow, ice, or fog.
  • Drive defensively. Look out for other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and animals.
  • Keep a safe distance between you and the car in front of you.
  • Always wear your seat belt. It's the law and seat belts have saved countless lives.
  • Know how to work the controls and quickly check the instrument panel of your car. Playing around with the radio, cruise control, cell phone, or any other instrument control is dangerous and decreases your concentration.
  • Pay attention when you drive. The most important thing to do when driving is driving.
  • Drive sober.
  • Ride only with sober drivers. Offer to drive if the driver has been drinking or spring for a taxi.
  • Allow plenty of time to get where you're going.
  • Make sure your car is in good working order.
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The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California, regulating the $123 billion insurance marketplace. In 2012 the California Department of Insurance received more than 160,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $64 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance web site at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.HELP. Out-of-state callers, please dial 213.897.8921. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.

If you are a member of the public wishing information, please visit our Consumer Services.

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