Clean Driving Records: Why Teens Should Care

That teenage ritual, obtaining their driver’s license. You remember those days, carefree, and able to go where the road took you. Of course, with some limitations! If you have a teen driver in your home you’re more than likely reliving those moments. At the same time, you are probably riveted with fear. Not just for the unlikely tragedy but the consequences of the minor fender bender, traffic violation, or parking tickets.

Teens are still kids. They don’t get that parking and speeding tickets do matter. When they pull up to the meter and walk away, they’re taking a step that will be bothersome down the road. After all, who has the time to feed the meter? Or look in the rearview? What about the cell phone? It’s calling them all the time.

Things happen fast in a car. The consequences of minor mistakes can linger. Here’s how to address some of those situations with your teen.

Car Insurance Rates

This is the first, and the biggest. Why? Because we all have to pay car insurance. Sure, some teens don’t pay their own premiums. But many do. Every violation from minor to major will affect your teen’s rates. Here are two interesting facts: most girls will be eligible for standard rates at the age of twenty one, and boys at twenty five. Since boys are more likely to be involved in accidents or moving violations, their age limit rises. How is this an issue for your teen?

Let’s look at the numbers. For example, a simple speeding ticket can cost a driver a twenty percent increase in their premium. If your child is in their early twenties, this can be a very big deal. Since most are graduating from college at this time, they will be facing large expenses such as student loans. It’s not a practical time to add on an additional increase in the car insurance premium. Furthermore, it will also delay your child from obtaining standard rates that drivers with clear driving records enjoy.

The result is obvious. Since car insurance companies use your driving record to develop premiums, then it’s important to avoid any infractions. It’s not easy for a new driver to avoid accidents or moving violations, but less is always best. Instead of piling on additional expenditures early in their adult lives, let them know the importance of their driving record for their insurance premiums.

Speeding to Poor Credit

Of all things, credit is probably the last thing you would consider your driving record to affect. Not so. For instance, municipalities can send unpaid speeding or parking tickets off to a collections agency. What happens next? You guessed it. The collection agency will report those debts to the credit bureaus. After all, it is an unpaid debt. Reinforce this fact to your teen.

Furthermore, your credit score can also affect car insurance rates. Let your teen know that insurance companies often consider credit rating when giving rates to drivers. It’s a full circle. Besides car insurance, the effects on the credit score can affect everything from credit card rates to private student loan interest rates.

Don’t Fight the Law

But it’s only a speeding ticket! That was the last word your teen said before her arrest. It doesn’t happen often, but it can. Let your teen know the importance of paying fines before it’s too late.

Taken further, some driving infractions like a DUI or reckless driving can appear as felonies. This opens a whole litany of issues. From loss of voting rights to stalled college admissions, the effects are many. Furthermore, any conviction can be a red light on most job applications. Before your teen gets behind the wheel, reinforce this fact. An accident is an accident, but reckless driving endangers lives. And that’s exactly how the law will see it too.

In addition, a driving offense conviction can cause the surrender of his or her driver’s license. Ask them this: do you want mom or dad to drive you around? Hopefully the embarrassment will provide plenty of motivation to be safe when behind the wheel.

Job Opportunities Left by the Side of the Road

More and more, a clean driving record is required for any job. Most potential employers will investigate your teen’s driving record during any pre-employment screening. Why? Because it’s an indication of responsible behavior. Furthermore, employers use it to assess the risk in hiring an employee. Does your teen have multiple parking or moving violations? Let them know the repercussions. That new college degree could be useless in some occupations requiring travel.

In addition to future opportunities, current employers may see it as a cause for termination.

Along those lines, your teen could say goodbye to a career in public service or the military. Many government agencies, police and fire departments, and the military will not recruit individuals with felony driving convictions. That night out with friends will be costly.

College Dreams

Speaking of college that hard earned scholarship could go the way of the road. A conviction for reckless driving or a DUI will have serious academic consequences. Instead of the low or no cost degree, your teen may have to pony up for additional student loans. In some circumstances, colleges or universities could even place a convicted felon on administrative leave.

But it affects college costs in more ways. A poor driving record could ding your teen’s credit, making student loans harder to obtain. And that poor credit rating could follow them long into adulthood.

The Bottom Line

Driving is freedom. But it’s a freedom with deep responsibility. From minor infractions to felonies, driving carelessly is costly. From finance to personal freedom, a simple lack of judgment could cause years of hardship. After all, this is a child that was recently trying to convince you to buy them an iPhone!

Instead of throwing the keys to you your teen, set them up with a defensive driving course. Insurance companies, community colleges, and state DMVs all offer these courses. It’s the best bet to get your teen a more competitive car insurance premium. Best of all, it will have them driving off in the right direction. Then you can relax on the road!

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