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Five Things to Check Before Lending Your Teen the Car

For most teens, obtaining a driver’s license represents freedom, independence, and the first leap into adulthood. However, obtaining a car may be a different story. If you are a parent with a newly-licensed teenager, he/she may have already tried asking to borrow your car (“Trust me.. I’m licensed now!”). Before handing your car keys (and trust) over to your teen, here are five “check-list” items to consider first:

•    Check your insurance policy. As an adult driver, you’re most likely aware that it is illegal in most states to drive around without car insurance. As such, be sure to add your teenager to your auto insurance policy, rather than insuring them separately, to save some money. Bonus: most insurance agencies offer “good student” discounts for students who maintain a B average, so be sure to ask!

•    Ask questions and gather information. Creating a standard of clear communication and accountability is key to establishing trust with your teen driver. Be sure to gather as much information as possible about your teen’s destination, details about his/her passengers, departing and arrival times – anything that will ensure that you are well-informed. Go over some general rules and expectations so that they are rightly accountable.

•    Limit the number of teen passengers. Studies on teen driving safety show that the risk of car accidents increases with each teenage passenger. Make sure to review your state’s liability laws and ensure that your teenager is not transporting more people than is legally allowed.

•    Conduct a basic vehicle maintenance. Make sure that the car itself is safe for your teenager to drive. Conduct a basic maintenance check on your car, including checking your tires, wipers, lights, oil and gas, transmission and washer fluid levels.

•    Understand the risks. If your teen gets into an “at-fault” accident, understand that your insurance will be impacted. Teenagers in general are considered “high-risk” drivers, so do ensure that you are financially prepared to face any possible repercussions.

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