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Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, Driver Safety Experts, and Parents Highlight Teen Driver Safety Issues

News: 2012 Press Release

For Release: June 20, 2012
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
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Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, Driver Safety Experts, and Parents 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 and parents at the San Diego Automobile Club 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.

"With today being the first of day summer, most teens are on break from school, and this time also represents one of the deadliest time periods for teen 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."

"An average of 400 teens died in traffic crashes during each of the summer months (May through August), compared to a monthly average of 346 teen deaths during non-summer months," said Alice Bisno, Auto Club senior vice president of public affairs. "Four of the most dangerous days on the road for teens are coming up, including July 4, so it is important for parents and teen drivers to be aware of bigger risks, including driving with teen passengers in the car."

"An AAA study showed that compared to driving with no passengers, a 16- or 17-year-old driver's fatality risk increases 44 percent when carrying just one passenger younger than 21," added Bisno. "This data shows that restricting teen drivers from carrying teen passengers can save lives and that is why such a restriction is part of the state's GDL."

The Auto Club noted that it provides a number of parent and teen driver teaching tools, including a teen driver web site, Dare to Prepare classes for parents and pre-driving teens, AAA OnBoard®, a wireless communications device that plugs into the vehicle to monitor driving behavior, a parent/teen agreement and a driving school.

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 and Brian Lilly, a parent and former California Highway Patrol Officer who used a program to improve his children's driving skills.

"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.

The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $310 billion in premiums annually in California. Since 2011 the California Department of Insurance received more than 1,000,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $469 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance website at Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.4357. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.

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